What took you so long?

At some point in my life, writing was a serious profession I considered in my day dreams. The inspirations were myriad, as with most young adults, ranging from JK Rowling to Tolkien to Asimov and beyond. My mom instilled an unending fascination for English crime novels in me, so I was able to add Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to the list as well (yes, Poirot was Belgian, I know). I wrote long and arduous essays on word files that I’d been inspired with in the bathroom that morning. I created a blog to express those incredibly malnourished skills to the world and receive some criticism. But, as they say, nothing lasts long. Life took over and I abandoned all attempts at keeping a well stocked website to track my writing prowess (or lack of it). It was rekindled a little in college when I resorted to typing out my incredible frustration at the Indian education system, but in retrospect, it was a massive spurt of my own untamed sarcasm splashing the pages and being edited into some semblance of the written word.

WordPress tells me it has been 4+ years since the last time my thoughts were put on paper on a public website. That is not to say that I don’t write long, convoluted monographs to satisfy my towering hubris in private, but what little I’ve put up online since then has been in small blurbs on Twitter or completely anonymous comments/posts on reddit. So when the shadow of a muse suddenly found its way into my head the other day, I took some notice unlike the previous instances when I dismissed it to concentrate on more character building projects such as binge watching shows on Netflix or attempting for the umpteenth time to set up Arch Linux on a VM after forgetting all the pitfalls I cleared the previous million times I applied myself to the task.

It isn’t easy to pick up the (proverbial) pen after so long and try to write something whimsical that I’d be happy with. It is similarly difficult to actually select a topic and hope to write something palatable to even myself at a future date. The random 2-3 people who have actually read this blog in the past have lauded my attempts at ranting and raving about life in general, but I believe I’ve grown out of the phase. In conclusion, after 3 paragraphs of meandering, I have to conclude that writing sarcastic posts is not my thing any more. I would rather attempt to channel my inner philosopher and observer and try to write about the little vagaries of life than continue to put down my cynical thoughts. This decision is driven by more than just my own maturity. In attempting to find the truth on my own, I realised sometime last year that I’ve gone way past what my college self would’ve defined as “loony” and landed firmly into the crazy camp of ideas.

But enough of the drivel of growing up. Suffice it to say I am not the same person I was when I wrote some of my previous blog posts that I spent some (very cringey) time reading today. To inaugurate my brief return to the realm of virtual banalities, I must get on with getting on.


The Vagaries of Texting

To say that everyone “texts” in today’s world is akin to saying people breathe to live. It is patently impossible to avoid the written communication form, which itself is simply a shortened real time extension of the letter writing days of yore. But unlike having a pen pal, people don’t think of texting (or even email) as a character building exercise in any sense. Now, it is possible that no one has given it much thought … rather than having considered it and dismissed it with the adverse conclusion due to such patently primitive notions as “nothing replaces face to face communication”. However, let’s assume the latter is the case and allow me to write a blog post expounding on my fascination.

The millenial generation has been “texting” for the greater part of the past 20 years. We took to it faster than our parents, which some would consider natural. Let me point out an opposite situation – email. If your parents were working through the nineties and noughties, they almost definitely started emailing long before you did. So why is it that we picked up texting so quickly? After texting plans became prevalent to the extent of “100 SMS/day free” or more, we ravaged the medium like it was nobody’s business. I submit that texting has built character for our generation, just like having a pen pal relationship was a big deal until the 1980s or so.

Now I hear you asking, “how are you even comparing the two? One is a medium for writing essay length compendium of thoughts and ideas, while the other is a fast moving and incredibly ethereal medium of sharing quips”. I believe it was Shakespeare who said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. And what greater example of it is there in the modern era than Twitter. Incidentally, Twitter started off with the ability to receive updates using text messages from the handle owners (hence the initial 140 character limit).

So what has texting achieved for us? Nothing in itself. However, it was a prelude to other more complex means of instant messaging such as Yahoo Messenger and its modern variants. The new paradigm with these extensions to texting was that there was now an anonymous way to meet people online and exchange ideas. The progress from there has been breathtaking – from Hangouts and Skype to Slack and its copies.

Still not getting to the point, am I? Very well, here it is – in all the years that I’ve progressed along with every other millenial through these technologies in turn, I have gained what can only be described as a transcendent level of communication. At an asynchronous pace, I have kept up with people, their arguments, their thought processes, the media they share and I don’t even know what else. In the middle of exchanging profanities with random strangers, I discovered people in passing whose influence on my thought process was imprinted despite their anonymity.

The written word has always been one of the most powerful of mediums. It is no wonder that Gutenberg’s printing press is considered one of the most pivotal inventions in human history. Some people argue that, similar to reading, the next skill we’ll need to get out of our ignorant adolescence as a civilisation is to learn to code. But that is a different topic for a later time.

Texting has taken the writing medium to its logical real time conclusion, and I personally think this is just the beginning i.e. this real time, possibly asynchronous, duplex communication style will flower into something we cannot even imagine at this moment. Personally, I hope there’s at least one more revolution to the medium within my lifetime, just so I can revel in the innovative new paradigm.


Asura: Tale of the Vanquished Review


A completely fresh look at one of the oldest epics in the country. Good detailing of emotions from a first person POV. Everything about this book was good … except the writing itself.


I should reduce another half star for some absolutely abysmal sentence phrasing. The editor doesn’t really seem to have bothered much about … well, editing the script.

Cover of Asura: Tale of the Vanquished

But a very, very good book in terms of the storyline and depiction of events. I’ve never viewed Ravana as anything more than a demon who was a Shiva worshipper and a master of arts as well as a great warrior. Somehow, his inner torments that were brought out in this book (using the first person POV) made him, in the end,  what the author clearly says in the synopsis – “the epitome of a human being”.

One thing I commend is the author’s use of an unknown character – unknown, in the sense that I’ve never heard of him playing any part in the epic in any version – Bhadra. Although he’s depicted as having an almost unbelievably cruel fate, his use as a character has been done to great advantage.

1) The character is used to fill in plot holes between this version and the original Ramayana. He figures into the overthrowing of Kubera by Ravana, in the finding of Sita by Janaka and in many other places. Most of these events are almost impossible to occur to the same person in one lifetime, but for the sake of fiction, I’m willing to overlook that part.

2) He is used to depict the plight of the poorest of the poor and their day to day troubles while the main character of the story, Ravana to depict the highest classes of society. Through a world view more analytical than you could imagine from a “low born Asura”, he shows a world where those in poverty are almost indifferent to who holds the reins. Their suffering is set against the backdrop of the political climate in each scene, which works beautifully to create the setting. While the aristocrats and the nobles side with the winner and ensure their positions, the downtrodden are swept along with the tide of pillaging and looting armies of rival kingdoms or police actions by their own country’s justice system. These poor peasants unite only under the yoke of Ravana during his final battle when they perceive a graver threat than usual to their way of living.

3) His interactions with Ravana are used brilliantly as well. Every time they interact, both viewpoints are shown in successive chapters. In particular, when Ravana rapes a woman whom Bhadra was seeing, some interesting insights into the injustice of a monarch system are shown. The inner thoughts of both Asuras are laid out bare for comparison. It was during these particular chapters that I wished the writer could have been better with his words. The richness in thought is just lost when the writing does not have the power to deliver them.

I dunno how correctly the atrocities committed by Brahmins were depicted in the book. But I’ll be fair here – we’ve heard of Ravana as being insanely cruel in our stories from childhood and I can give the author some slack for having the balls to portray things the other way around.

Ravana’s story, in my opinion, should be retold more often. Children should understand that history is not written only by the winners. You need a spectacularly good villain to make your hero seem all the better. And such a spectacular villain has his own story to tell.

Definitely, a favourite of mine for some time to come.

Rating: 4/5

Imagine, if you will.

In nearly 22 years, I can honestly say I have never totally stopped reading books for more than a week at a time (ever since I started, at least). When I did not have physical books, I had ebooks on my laptop. When I did not have my laptop, I had my iPod. When I did not have my iPod, I had my phone. Yes, I shifted books even though I was only half way through them but the advent of technology made sure I didn’t have to bother about keeping bookmarks with my virtual copies and could start where I left off. No, I do not have a Kindle. I do not find it cost effective over a full fledged tablet. Arguments to the contrary about the awesome e-ink technology can please find the under side of their buttocks and stick them there.

With books, there is always a phase when a genre prevails in your life. I won’t go so far as to say it defines what that phase of your life meant because frankly, I’m not even close to philosophical. But I will go so far as to say, they show a certain bent (bend?) of mind at that point in your life. I can clearly remember my own phases. I won’t bother trying to guess what they meant about my bent of mind. But here goes (in no particular order):

1) The Enid Blyton phase:

Everyone has gone through this phase – devouring books of the great author one after the other. It helps that at this stage, your parents are supportive of your extra curricular reading and will allow you to buy or rent books indiscriminately. Allegations of her being racist apart, Enid Blyton was my favourite author as a child. The simplicity of her stories and the rendition of things in black and white (absolutely no pun intended) kept me hooked. And I can honestly say, as someone who grew up reading almost all her books, I haven’t a single racist bone in my body.

2) The Hardy Boys phase:

This is one of those phases when you start loving detective novels. I was in fourth standard when I read Hardy Boys the first time and I didn’t understand most of it. It started making sense only in sixth but by then I had moved on to other books. I name this the Hardy Boys phase but it covers most detective novels I read as a child including the Famous Five, the Five Find-Outers and the Secret Seven. While the latter three were much easier to comprehend, I preferred them more for the image of England that Blyton portrayed. Sweating like a pig inside my room in Chennai, I could only dream and conjure up images of winter in the British isles and how I would’ve loved sitting through the winter just bundled up in a chair with hot chocolate (I still hadn’t had my first coffee sip back then).

3) The Harry Potter phase:

I needn’t elaborate. Every kid I know of my age has read the series and was waiting for the seventh installment as eagerly as I was back in twelfth (or was it eleventh? I forget).

4) The J.R.R phase:

This started for me somewhere around eleventh standard – about the time when I saw the three movies in a trilogy DVD box set my dad brought home. Frankly, I had never heard of the fantasy genre and I was trying my damnedest to understand the movie. But it moved all too fast and I’m not ashamed to admit it. So I resorted to the books with some mild interest. To say I was blown out of my mind would be an understatement. I was mesmerised. My love affair with fantasy fiction was clearly going to last long.

The one criticism everyone makes of JRR’s books is that they contain a little too much graphic information about little things. My friend keeps reminding me of one page in the middle of the Lord of the Rings series where Tolkien describes a leaf falling for one entire page. I am not sure if I was more intellectual (I’m an elitist bitch, as another friend keeps pointing out) or if the others never bothered, but that was the part about Tolkien that I loved. His well crafted descriptions of things that existed in an imaginary land were my most cherished passages in the books. I kept them earmarked with small pen markings in a library book (I defaced those with impunity back when I did rent them out). Unfortunately, my mom returned the book before I could note them down somewhere permanent and I just didn’t get back to it.

Most people know Tolkien for Lord of the Rings but as any Tolkien fan would tell you, his greatest work is Silmarillion. I got that book from some girl in my school in twelfth and it was as good as I expected. This led me on to discover other books like The Children of Turin, The Lost Tales volumes among others. Tolkien remains my favourite fantasy author to date.

5) The elitist phase:

As I previously said, my friend keeps pointing out that I’m an elitist bitch because I can’t stand people who don’t get joke references from famous works of fiction. I call this the elitist phase in tribute to her because most of the books I read are her recommendations. My elitist phase (which still continues) consists of high standard authors – people who’ve won the Man Booker or the Nebula award (science fiction phase comes later on) – like Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Hilary Mantel, William Dalrymple etc. While their works span from historical fiction (Amitav Ghosh) to actual history told in a fictional manner (Dalrymple), I admire all their works because they have the most important skill to keep a reader hooked – the masterful art of storytelling. I still haven’t picked up a Hilary Mantel but I’m sure I’ll love it as much as I love Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy (or a duology as it remains now). I will probably cover all the Man Booker candidates and winners in my life time because honestly, they are the Man Booker winners for a reason – they’re really good. Unlike the Academy Awards where I feel the best movie never wins the Oscar, I don’t have much complaint about the Booker. Of course, that could be because I see all the movies that release but I probably don’t read even 1% of all the books that release in a year.

6) The DNA phase:

Yeah yeah, it’s DNA’s b’day today. I know that as does half of the world, thanks to Google. My bench mate in class introduced me to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Combine bull shit with really awesome scientific thought experiments and you get somewhere close to what DNA achieved. Futurama may have better bull shit as a serial but DNA pioneered sci-fi bull shitting. With no seriousness to his 5 books, he brings out some *really* whacky concepts. Like the bistromathic drive (thank god for Google and their spelling corrections) where the ship is powered by a waiter taking orders inside a ship’s restaurant. And of course, the crux of the entire story – the infinite improbability drive which lets you travel space based on how improbable it was that you were in a particular place at a particular time. Very nice stuff.

People may wonder how I left out the Wodehouse phase. Honestly, I haven’t read much Wodehouse. Yes, I can hear you gasping. I will get down to it one of these days, I promise. It’s just that I find Wodehouse sarcasm so heavy (I have read a few books) that I need to concentrate on actually reading every single line instead of blithely skipping ahead with half-assed attention as I can do with even the best of books.

I’m also skipping out on the Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot/Perry Mason phase because almost everyone has been through it. I’ve seen very few people who’ve either not seen the movies, the famous BBC series, the Elementary series or at least read the books. The magic is evident. I needn’t sit here and try to explain it.

The DNA phase introduced me to the world of science fiction but it was not until my bench mate told me about Isaac Asimov that I seriously started considering a genre I had classified until then (inside my head) as a minor spin off of classical literature with a wilder imagination. I’ve since then devoured all the science fiction I could find.

This whole post was more to talk about why science fiction is so awesome. The rest of it can just be considered preamble. Yep, that much more to go. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As I said before, I started reading science fiction with DNA. It took me quite some time to read all 5 books (I was having some trouble adjusting that with studying). I stopped after that even though my friend kept pestering me to move on to Asimov. Sometime in the twelfth holidays, I made the jump. I downloaded the entire chronology and started reading them as ebooks. I cannot quantify as to whether it was the fact that I was reading ebooks or the fact that I was doing it in spurts (because my college days were going to start) but I never really appreciated it. Then, sometime in second year, I really read  the books (from the start) and found the magic that had been lurking before my eyes.

The premise of most science fiction (if not all) is a future where mankind has advanced to stages of near immortality or a stage where technology seems like magic. Some science fiction authors like Asimov deal with certain events that happen in this world set in the future. Some others, like Philip K. Dick talk more about how the technology has affected mankind. Still others, like Arthur Clarke create a suspense story in a world where we can never guess what could possibly happen but we still feel we must find out. Then there are others, like Frank Herbert (of Dune fame) who wrote in a similar fashion to Asimov but spanned his stories in a different arc altogether. Of all these stories – short ones or novellas – I’ve found nothing that comes close to “The Last Question” by Asimov. In fact, you can read it here after you finish the post. I won’t elaborate with spoilers, promise.

My greatest problem with famous science fiction authors – be it Asimov, Orson Card, Herbert or who-have-you is that I won’t start reading until I have the entire collection and I can assure myself that I’m going to do it in the right chronological order. I am a stickler in this sense. I’ve shifted from Asimov to Clarke to Frank/Brian Herbert just because I couldn’t find the next book chronologically, even though I had other books in the series. Although it’s an irritating OCD to deal with, I suggest most people do the same. The intermediary stories or prequels/sequels may never be as good as the first book to be published in a series but reading them in order always gives a better experience.

The part I like about sci-fi is that it is so wildly imaginative, so absolutely out of the box that I cannot guess what is going on. To a caffeine addled hyper active brain, that is very important. However much I try to arrange the sequence of events, I just do not have enough information to make a guess at how the story is going to end. This is especially true of the short stories by Philip K. Dick, which are absolutely nowhere close to reality (they were mostly written during and before the Cold War period) and have really out-worldish ideas.

The best science fiction, in my opinion though, are the ones which Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert write. They are truly epic series of novels/short stories which span many centuries and sometimes, even millenia. With shifting focus, they somehow propel you through something like 15-20 millenia and you enjoy the ride because it’s just that un-guessable. Be it the eternal struggle between man and artificial intelligence, or the galactic wars between alien races or the struggle of mankind trying to fit into a society where their every aspect of livelihood is affected by the advent of machines, the stories grip you at every stage – the start (because you don’t know anything about this new world), the middle (when the premise of that particular story becomes clear) and the end (there is just no way you can guess until the last page as to what’s going to happen).

My tryst with science fiction doesn’t end here though. I’ve watched movies (Terminator, Star Wars etc), cartoons/anime (Ghost in the Shell), shows (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who etc) and what not to quench the thirst for the absolutely bizarre (I’ve carefully avoided use of this term before this point in the post). It just doesn’t seem to die. But I’m not perturbed. As the saying goes, I’m “cool cool cool”.

The Perfect Configuration – Mac on Ubuntu

Yes, long time since I posted blah blah.

This is a tech post. So no, nothing interesting for the casual reader. Move on.

The best part about Mac is the interface. There is no comparison with Windows (8, at least). Anyway, I thought I’d make a post on it – both as a manual to refer to later and as a tome to perfecting it after nearly 2 hours of tinkering.

This post will cover just the major mac interface components – the dock and the genie effect.

The Dock – Install Cairo dock from Ubuntu store.

The Genie Effect – Install compiz config editor (I don’t remember the package name etc so just Google it).

The settings:

Configure the dock to start on startup. This is per usual. Right click the dock and click configure and tinker in the settings.

Now, open the compiz editor. First enable wobbly windows (it’s a nice effect) if you want to. Read whatever dialog props and up and click the necessary button. Then, click Animations under Effects. Click the Minimise Animation tab. Click on the Zoom animation enabled by default, click Edit and change the effect to Magic Lamp (basically Genie). Tinker around a little with the timer (it’s in milliseconds) until you get the right effect you desire. Mine is set somewhere around 450 milliseconds. Now, the minimise and maximise animation is perfect. Problem is the wobbly windows interferes with both and creates some very undesirable effects (go ahead, try it). So, if you’ve enabled wobbly windows, there is one more step. Click the Wobbly Windows button (not the check box) inside compiz editor and uncheck Maximise Effect (right at the bottom).

That’s it. You’re done. Now, your Linux behaves more like a mac but is still awesome. Tinker around inside the Compiz editor if you want. There are some very interesting animations.

Personally, I enabled Wave under Focus Animations. Gives a nice sorta effect.

I’m thinking about making those mouse gestures work (apart from the double tap to right click though — I hate that) from Mac. Switching workspaces and displaying all windows and what-you-have. Should do it sometime soon.

Anyway, adios!

No rest for the wicked

Fore-inserted afterthought: While I was simply planning to write about the odd hours that I’ve been subject to in my B-school experience, the flow of writing led to me to rant continuously and make this whole post into a B-school rant as such.

Hah. Gotcha! I made that preamble before I even started writing the post. But enough trolling. Let me start my awesome discourse.

B-schools suck. There is no other easy way to put it. There is also no better way to put it. Although, I have been exposed to more cultural difference here than I have been anywhere in my entire life, I really don’t care much for it. Also, it has given me even greater insight into how stupid Amits really are and how people perceive the south. I wouldn’t say they are wrong as much as they are utterly, totally, completely ignorant of anything south of MP. But that’s them and it’s better not to change it or Twitter may become boring again (KRK, nee thala da).

There is a stark contrast when you come from engineering into MBA. Unless of course, you’ve studied in one of those unheard of colleges spread all over the north like the vultures that feast on a carcass till the bones are the only things left. That was actually a very clever analogy. I’m sure you appreciated it. Anyway, back to the point. I observe things a lot. And then I note it down in my blog. I don’t know why. Writing is a neurosis. I’ve been exposed to too much Tolkien and Vyasa. Also, I digress.

Anyway, my experience has been more unique than most MBA students. I have moved from a 10 day stint in one of the top 10 colleges in India to an year outside the country in a (literal) desert. Of course, I’m sitting in an AC with very fast internet but unless you give me a chance to travel back in time and take a photo with Schrodinger, I’d prefer being home. Home is where the filter coffee is, after all. All this, of course (again), is besides the point. I should really edit my thoughts when I write them down.

So, I’ve moved on. Back in India, the college was filled with these over enthusiastic bundles of energy. Any question in class, any comment from a teacher, any group activity had like a 1000 people to volunteer for it. It was so different from engineering where anyone hardly ever volunteered to work on something. I mean, there was enough brain damage just attending college in those days. My surprise of course, was short lived. I found a like minded group that partied hard, didn’t volunteer to take on more work and was, generally, my type. Except they talked. A lot.

The phrase “Man is a social animal” cannot be applied to Amits. Why? Because Aristotle definitely set reasonable bounds to how much talking a human needed to do in a day to satisfy his .. er, needs (for want of a better word). Amits transcend that limit .. and then they transcend it a little more .. and a little more. You get the point. They talk a lot.

In one of my crazier thought experiments, I tried surmising how it would be to let two Amits in the same room and leave them there for a fortnight. According to my back of the envelope calculations, the energy required for them to talk as much as they usually do would completely sap them of energy and leave them skeletons .. that will still keep talking. So I put in a few more variables. What if they had food supply and water and oxygen etc? Then I realised the room would become a nuclear reactor with the amount of energy they expel while talking. So I extended the thought experiment a little more .. What if we could somehow harness this energy? Would it satisfy the power requirements of India? Then … my download finished. I’d have been a very successful academician if this stupid internet didn’t exist.

But back to the point. The like minded Amits I found here are pretty awesome and I’m slowly growing to like their company. Although their ignorance of computers seems almost too bad to be true, I’ve found that there does exist such a thing. Even the cleverest Amit here couldn’t understand my point when I told him why Windows is better than Mac is almost every which way. So I’ve come to regard them as Indian version of Americans – they talk, eat and burp. And they use macs. They also party hard. So yes, there is something in common.

The worst part about MBA though, is the insane workload. I took the time to draw a graph and show how it progresses.

But I’d just make calluses on my finger tips if I started talking about it. Suffice it to say that in my entire 4 years of engineering, including the penultimate disaster of a semester, I did not have HALF as much work as I have in one week over here. Of course, if I was in EEE, that’d be a different thing entirely.

As the workload and the environment have taught me, living in AC really makes you forget the time .. even though you have windows. I have now done every single possible combination of routines that even a junkie would find mildly disturbing. Wake up at night and stay up till morning? Done. Stay awake for almost 48 hours continuously and then sleep for only 6? Done. Start hallucinating due to lack of sleep and still keep on working to meet deadlines? Done. The one thing that helped though was the AC. I could not have done even half this much work if I was back in India trudging around in that soul sucking heat.

I’m also fighting a personal war with my net administrator here who has taken it upon himself to block every single site of use inside the Academic block and torrents inside the hostel. Thankfully, oppressing authority is not a new thing and I have found quite a few workarounds of my own in a few minutes of web searching. Suffice it to say, as long as connection to the internet exists, freedom will as well.

There you have it. I’m far far away from home, I’m working my ass off in some course I do not foresee myself liking any time in the near future and I haven’t had thayir saadam with aavakai urgaa or filter coffee in 4 months. Oh well. Since I’ve joined the course, I might as well see it to its (bitter?) end. As a wise man once said, “Life is too short for regrets”.

An Ode to the Heat

Titular disclaimer: This is NOT an ode! I just put that there to make at least the title look poetic. Yes, I’m very insecure about being incorrect.

I remember learning way back in 6th standard about longitudes and latitudes and how the sun’s rays make sure that most of India remains hot through the millennia. Of course, heat is a relative thing. A guy from Russia would find the Delhi winter relatively warm, if you get my drift. Of course, a Russian living in India only means that their spambot has been perfected and is safely tucked away and they can enjoy the money it generates.

I’ve lived for nearly 12 years in Chennai and I can honestly say I hate the weather. My excessive sweating is compounded by the almost 100% humidity near the beach. But many people have waxed lyrical (and quite eloquently) on the subject of the perennial heat in Chennai. Everyone now takes the heat to be commonplace and doesn’t bother either deriding the city or wasting their time worrying about such petty things as sweating excessively while there is hot filter coffee to be had *slurp*

All this, of course, is 20 days past in my case. I got admission into a college in Ghaziabad, near Delhi. Since my dad lives here, I thought I might as well come a little early. I was warned about the raw heat here but being a fellow from one of the most scorched cities in India, I threw caution to the wind. How much worse can it get? Now, to get a true gauge of my utter and complete stupidity, consider this – I lived in Delhi from 93-98. Even though I was a kid, my parents had a fair idea of what the Delhi summer was like and gave me fair warning. Heeding such advice, of course, is hardly worthy of a true buffoon like myself so I went ahead and opted to stay with my dad for a few days before I went to college. In retrospect, that was the worst part of my plan.

Now, the minute I arrived here, I understood the true meaning of what heat meant. Chennai, being near the beach does not have such extreme temperatures as Delhi does. This place is an absolute furnace, I assure you. The newspapers are shouting that this is the worst summer yet. You’d better believe it. Like any sensible person, I went ahead and sat in the AC for the 5 days before my college was supposed to start giving no heed to such psychological concepts as acclimatization and all that.

I’ll now describe how hot Ghaziabad is, metaphorically. Imagine taking a lake filled with lava and surrounded by brimstone. Now, further imagine you are in the middle of the lake on a small island with the lava licking at your feet and you holding a ring with some strange inscriptions on it while you get visions of an eye staring at you. Oh wait, cut that last part. Visual stimulus done? Now, imagine the effing heat where you’re standing. Yeah, you’re close to what I was feeling. For 10 whole days, I was mucking about in that insane heat with only a spare cooler for any comfort. Yes, I made friends and all that shit but seriously, the heat here is more of a deterrent to the entire cognitive process of a normal human being.

Of course, I’m back in the AC now. Cooling off all the heat and all yo *bling jewellery and nigga hand signs* . But most important of all, I’m home. Why is that important? Because now I can get my daily dose of filter coffee. All is well that ends well.

Anatomy of a Review

Some events get me angry. Some get me frustrated. There are rarely ones that get me both and more. At that point, I put my emotions down in writing and slander one and all concerned with nary a fuck given to such things as “consequences” and related stuff.

Today was our final internal review. My love for writing a lot would now make you realise that I am going to give a background, a prologue and may be an index page before I start off. Don’t ask me why I do that. To give a good analogy, it is akin to revving up a modern superbike so that you have a flying start when you release the brake.

When I say review, I implicitly refer to a review of my project work. Since more than half the Indian population is studying engineering, there is never any need to be explicit about exactly what kind of a review I am attending. Every review is *meant* to measure how much you have progressed in your project. What it becomes is a playground for the review panel to simply fuck around with you, laugh it off with each other and then say in that oh-so-silent-whisper-that-can-clearly-be-heard-across-the-whole-fucking-classroom that the group presenting their project has not done anything novel and that we’re somehow trying to “cheat” them. But more details on that later. Also, here is a meme I created for the occasion of us getting screwed:


No review goes as planned. You create a powerpoint file and instruct your project mates on what to do and who should read from which slide. Once you go inside the review hall, however, the panel is standing there just waiting to tear you up. There are many pictures online that illustrate my point but IMO, these are the best.

images                    firing-squad-picture

Obviously, the crocodiles and the shooting squad are compared to the panel.

Contrary to how generic the title of the post is, I am just going to discuss the reviews I have been a participant in victim of.

In any internal review, judging the panel is easy. You know most of the faculty and have a fair idea of who wants to screw you, who wants to screw with you, who is bored sitting there and can’t wait to get out and who is genuinely interested in what you have done. The problem is, none of this matters one whit in the greater picture.

I shall now broadly outline each generic member of the review panel. Or at least the types I have come across.

The One who is Bored:

He has no idea why he is in the panel. He is hardly interested in judging you and would just as soon get out of the place but has no choice. The best way to deal with this member is to concentrate on him only if you don’t know the subject at all. Best comparison? This guy:


If you genuinely know much about your project, there is no use concentrating on him since he will neither understand what you’re saying nor support you when the other jurors panel members pick on you.

The One who wants to screw with you:

This guy is the easiest to find out. He will ask you irrelevant questions in an accusing manner and more often than not, he is going to mark you well even though you answer like an idiot. He enjoys what he is doing and will sometimes give you nuggets of wisdom on how you can make improvements. Obviously, you must keep him on your side, listen to what he says and nod like he has a point (which he mostly does). An analogous meme would be this one:


The One who Nitpicks:

This is the most useless member of the panel. He has no significant contribution to make to your review so, to save face, he will nitpick on the most inconsequential stuff. For instance, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, not wearing the ID card, alignment problems in your report … and so on and so forth. I couldn’t find the perfect nitpicking meme but my friend suggested this and I guess it works.


The best strategy to take with this guy is to let him say what he wants and agree with it. There is no use trying to tell him that such inconsequential things do not matter outside of his own frame of reference since he has no other frame of reference. Although, analogously,  if you can convince a hungry monkey that trying to solve math is more important than going for that delicious banana, you can take a shot with this guy. It will be worth it since you will take up the entire review session simply convincing him that your ID card photo faded because the intensity of the RFID tag reader in your library is always set too high.

The Clueless Interested Guy:

This is the best of all the members of the panel. He knows nothing but he will nod at whatever you say and give you the feeling that Confucius had never said something more wise. If you have some sort of fear in facing a panel or are intimidated by most people on the panel, this is the guy you must turn to. Say whatever you want to him, make it sound complicated, make sure he keeps nodding and appears interested and you’re golden. The others may ask you questions on what you say but for the time and effort you give him, this guy will mark you just because you kept eye contact with him when you spoke rather than with the more experienced panel members.

The One who is Genuinely Interested:

You have to tread careful with this guy. He knows everything about the subject and will more likely screw you than not if you’ve done something stupid. It is better to simply acquiesce to all the problems in your project when he points them out. He is sometimes the benchmark for all the other clueless members of the project panel. If he believes a project is good, you will score good marks with every person in the panel. If he thinks, it’s shit, accept it and try telling him why you *thought* it was good and how you were obviously wrong. If he has a heart, you’ll still make it through.

The One who wants to Screw You:

He is the worst of them all. The most dangerous of the panel members. He knows what you’re talking about and is looking for a fault. He acts as an amplifier and brings your faults to the fore for all the members to see. He starts seeing faults the minute you open your presentation. Rather than limiting them to the essentials in your project, he will influence the nitpicking guy by finding grammatical and spelling mistakes as well. If you’ve done something novel and done it perfectly, he will let it slide as though it is inconsequential. He is also the most dangerous to play with. Of course, the best meme is Scumbag Steve.


You have to consider the whole panel and see how much they will be swayed by his opinions.

a) They are highly influenced by his opinions. You are officially screwed. TRY not to mention anything you have only a passing idea about. This guys knows all and sundry and he will try to screw you at a moment’s notice. So if whatever you are explaining is not your strong point, simply don’t bother. He will screw you in every which way and all you can hope is there isn’t much you’ll lose. If you are sure about what you’re saying, fight with all your might. Shout, rage, talk to him like he is a kid. Any strategy will work as long as you can convince him that he shouldn’t mess around with you in this subject. The other panel members will also be impressed if you’re able to keep your own against him. It all counts in your favour.

b) They are not all that influenced by his opinions. This is helpful. Simply listen to his question and maintain contact with each panel member when you answer. If he interferes, tell him you want to complete what you’re saying. Don’t be a complete idiot and say something so out of context that all the panel members get irritated and give you low marks. Maintain your cool and focus on impressing the others rather than this fellow.

Anatomy of my review

A little personal experience shall now follow.

It was a hot, sweltering day. They were waiting outside, preparing themselves for the inevitable doom. Today was D-day. The final review. The last night had been spent in perfecting the report and creating compellingly authentic fake codes whose sheer complexity, they hoped, would stun the panel into silence. There was little else to do but prepare themselves as well as they could. Reading and re-reading the report with an eye on the door of the conference room, they waited to see who’d be called next. One group had already gone in. The time allotted had been 30 minutes but it was well beyond that and they hadn’t come out.

Finally, they came out and told them they were the next group in. They all fist punched. It was time to rock the stage. They trooped inside and opened up the slide show. None of them was really sure *when* exactly the world came crashing down but at some point, it just did.

They had taken a good measure of every member of the panel. They knew most of them in person and all of them by face. There were 7 of them:

1) The useless fool. He never knew much about the subject but acted the true savant. A complete idiot, if there ever was one. He was notoriously infamous for how he could make you soporific and start doubting your existence with his sheer stupidity when taking classes. He’d want you to have an ID card with a tag. He would ask the most nutty questions but giving a calm answer would usually soothe him enough to mark you well.

2) The nut case. You could never impress him, try as you might. Unless his pre-conceived notion of you – based on warped real life standards like GPA and other such nonsense – was good, you might as well win the Nobel but you’ll never get good remarks from him.

3) The egg head. He was the real danger. He knew everything about your subject and was waiting to screw you. He also influenced the head of the panel and was going to pose the greatest problem since the panel head himself was quite clueless.

4) The panel head. Absolute sadistic moron. All he could do was laugh in your face while giving you the lowest marks. He was notorious for failing entire classes just because it pleased him. Sauron would have found an ally in this one. Unfortunately, he was heavily influenced by (3)’s opinions and (3) was all set upon impressing him in order to make his own agenda move forward. This was gonna be a tough one.

5) Unknown dude. They’d only heard of him once. Some genius in an unrelated field. Hopefully shouldn’t cause much problems for the other groups.

6) Another useless fool. Why was this guy even on the panel? Oh well. At least he will just stop with the laughing and not actually screw them. Besides, he hardly knew anything. What will he even screw them with?

7) Random lady. She’ll probably check the grammar and all that. It’s fine. Appease her with a few yes and no’s and you should be fine.

It all started with (3). That much they could remember. They had prepared an order for the slide presentation and all that. It was thrown out the window and things went haywire.

(3) and (4) were bent on screwing them. There was neither logic nor reason in what they argued.

You’ve used a high end tool .. Why didn’t you start from the scratch? You started from the scratch .. Why didn’t you use an already existing high end tool? This project is rubbish. You are cheating us. This is a term assignment, not a FYP. You took 6 months to do THIS?!? There should be a mathematical basis for your model .. How did you progress without one? nntool must NOT be used in projects!

Accusations flew left, right and center.

They were mind-numbed. They knew there would be opposition but this was an all out predator drone attack. Oh well. Nothing to do. Stand there and wait till they finish firing. Once they did, the panel head told them he was marking them for zero. Goddamn it. They should’ve argued. They shouldn’t have given in that easily. But what’s done was done.

They came out looking bedraggled. They were screwed and they knew it.

“Let’s go to canteen macha!”, said one of them and they pushed their ragging session into the darker recesses of their mind and moved on. As they always had.

What’s in a name?–The origin of Satti


There are numerous people who ask me “Dude, why are you called Satti?” This is an answer to all those people. If you believe there are others whom I know and who will benefit from this knowledge, feel free to share. I loathe giving links to my blog to people other than the ones I want but this one time, I would like this post to spread if possible. Also, if you feel this is tl;dr, simply scroll to the bottom slightly above the first edit. The whole post has been summarised there.

Nicknames are very common. People need some way to identify someone other than the formal christening your parents did when you were born. Nicknames are not the same as pet names, in my opinion.

Pet names are given in the spirit of love. Your parents or family gives you pet names so that all their love for you finds an outlet when simply seeking you. Pet names are *invariably* cute sounding. They may make the victim gag every time he is called but your parents and family love it. They believe it symbolises your entire personality in one word. Another alternative is that they simply call you that because it got stuck. For instance, my pet name is madhu. Not many people know that. I don’t care divulging the fact because there is no way in all the seven, nine or odd numbered hells that someone will use my pet name over my all encompassing nickname (which I shall get to eventually). Also, it does not symbolise my personality much. Madhu literally means sweet. It also means liquor. I am neither obliging enough to be called sweet nor euphoria-inducing enough to be (metaphorically) called liquor.

Nicknames, on the other hand, start out in weird ways. They also propagate in weirder ways. Mostly, it is given in the spirit of demoralisation. For instance, there may be a bully who feels that whatever your parents christened you is not good enough for you, does not roll easily off his tongue because of retarded muscle motor control or does not suit his taste. The name sticks because other people feel the same way or do not want to be targets of said bully. Hence, what starts out as the result of a retarded inferior intellect trying to brawn his way through the world of oral eloquence changes your life forever. It propagates when people tend to call you the same name in front of friends from other circles.

But nicknames are simply that – nicknames. They stick for a small time and then they are forgotten and you remember it when you go to some high school reunion and someone calls you by the retarded christening you received in your adolescence (possibly the same bully) and it brings back memories. You go through college and work as though the name never existed.

In my special case though, it is an E-N-T-I-R-E-L-Y different story. To start off, my nickname is Satti. I shall get to its etymology eventually. What started off as a nickname has become so ubiquitous, people have no idea what my real name is. It’s Anirudh. Anirudh Ramesh. Or R.Anirudh, as I am otherwise known. NOT satti. I am not kidding you when I tell you that the generic situations I am about to confess happens on a weekly basis.

Situation 1

I am talking to someone and they start relating a story which involved telling my name. They tell me how they forgot my name entirely and just told the other person “Satti <this>” or “Satti <that>” and the other person instantly understood I was being referred to. Then, the person relating this story to me has the absolute <insert decent vernacular for 2 globules of courage every man is said to possess> to ask me what my real name actually is. To say that it pisses me off is an understatement. Dear <dude-who-will-do-this-to-me-in-the-future>, my real name is Anirudh. Put that through your head. I will give it to you in writing. I am highly adept at technology and will save it on your phone if you want. Even your Google contact list. Just don’t ask me that question as though you can never remember it when I tell you the first time.

Situation 2

I am talking in a group where similar story is being related. The storyteller drops my name as Anirudh either by mistake or for obsessiveness in getting the details right about the event. Dude number 1 interrupts and asks who Anirudh is. Dude number 2 asks the same question. Now, in this case, dude number 1 is actually naive about my real name. Dude number 2 simply wants to salt my wound, stoke my fire-of-rage, add butter to my cauldron of anger .. call it what you want, he just wants to piss me off. Dear dude number 2, please stfu. Dude number 1, there are other elements in the story. Far more important characters who are the essence of the story. Yet, you unfailingly focus on that one part which is trivial and yet enough to piss me off.


Pliss to be listening to all of story next time. Ok va?

Situation 3

I am talking to one dude when talk of Facebook or Twitter pops up.

One dude: “Macha, add me on Twitter/Facebook da. I just created an account … blah blah”

Me: “Yeah cool.” *whips out smartphone*

Dude: *whips out better smartphone* “Oh yeah, dude. I sent your a friend request already man. You were in the suggested list and I was like … Who the hell is Anirudh Ramesh? Lol. Then I saw your photo and sent the request. Just change the name to Satti man. Lulzzzz”

Me: *fake polite laughter*

Dear “One dude”, that is so not funny. If you were trying to make an impression on someone based on the factor of mirth alone, I’d give you a 1.5/10 along with a reverse handed bitch slap for insolence. Moron.

Anyhoo, each of these situations serves to remind me that I am hardly known by my official name anywhere. And now, as promised, I shall discuss its etymology.

I keep getting asked this question – “Dude, why are you called Satti, man?”. So I took it upon myself to go back in time, find the guy who gave me the nickname and then request Chuck Norris to roundhouse kick him to oblivion. I was only partly successful. Although I found the origin, it wasn’t of the name Satti, but of the first nickname Chatti. But I defer chronos if I don’t sequence the events. So here we go:

1) I joined a new school in 11th and since my physical appearance is no small matter (quite literally), I was more than ready for verbal assaults. The first few days were fine. Then it started. The first of them was given by this dude. I was called “Ammikallu” which is Tamil for the “Wet grinder stone” which looks like this:


Now, I’ll be honest here. I knew I was rotund but cylindrical? It puzzled me no end but only for a day. Not dwelling on insults is one of my better virtues. For a long time, I was simply called “ammi”.

2) A few months later (I was still in eleventh), this dude felt (with a precise notion of the third dimension) that I looked like a chatti – a kind of pot used for cooking sambar which looks like this:


Frankly, even I believed this suited me better. Not that I could have refuted a nickname in any case. Why? Murphy’s Law for nicknames – the more you deny it, the more it spreads. Ok, I made that up but you know it’s true.

3) The chatti nickname never caught on much actually. But that was the origin for Satti. My memory fails me in trying to pinpoint who it was who first anglicised chatti to satti. But by the middle of twelfth, it had spread so fast, people from other schools knew me only as satti. Hell, they thought that was my real name :/ .. But fact is that by this time, I had forgotten who started it all. I was flummoxed that I couldn’t remember the person who gave me the nickname.

4) Now, the guy who gave me the nickname did not know how pervasive it had become. So one random day, some girl in class calls me by Satti. By this time, I had totally given up trying to tell people to call me by my real name and I started responding to the nickname (with a hint of pride for the uniqueness of it, I might add). But the guy next to me was in splits for 5 minutes. After he got his breath back, I asked him what was so funny. Then he reminded me how he had given me the nickname and how funny it was that it had spread so fast.

When I came to college, I thought I was rid of the nickname once and for all. But it was not to be. Not only were some of my friends from school over here (whom I could have convinced to call me by my real name) but there was this guy as well. There was no convincing him and since I hanged out with him a lot in the first few months, the nickname spread like wildfire leading to above said situations.

I am not complaining though. Far from being derogative (as it was no doubt, originally meant to be), it has become highly unique. The name Satti – although it does not open closed doors or provide access to classified government files – does command a sort of recognition, no doubt compounded by my own unique physical features.

However unique though, I am not going to make it my official name. I’m not kidding when I say this but sometimes, I get so irritated by the situations such as I’ve shown above that I consider the name changing proposal just to make my life easier. So, here are the salient points you must take from reading this post:

1) My real (read – official) name is R. Anirudh.

2) My nickname is Satti.

3) There is no meaning as such to Satti but it originated from chatti which is a kind of cooking pot.

4) You have just wasted a few minutes of your life filling your head with absolutely useless information 😛

I don’t know how many changes this nickname will undergo. There are a few people who call me with many variants – slutty, jeddi, sattu, sats, sato etc. But I do sincerely thank the guy who came up with the nickname (satti, not chatti). Whoever you are, mate, you’ve given me some sort of alternate identity. I could create passports with this name and people wouldn’t even think twice about it.

PS: I know I address people I’m pissed off with in first person. Don’t point it out to me.

Edit: I also have a full nickname – Sattinathan Ramamoorthy. The origin to that is a very short story. On my twelfth excursion, we were made to play this extremely gay game where we had to remember the name of the guy next to us. This fellow was standing next to me. When asked my name, he instantly replied “Satti”. The game organiser didn’t believe that. So he instantly created a full nickname for me … and that’s that.

God of War


I was cleaning up the Hard Disk and found this post lying somewhere deep within the bowels of the myriad folders that my organised mind prefers to arrange my work in. If I ever develop an OS, file cross indexing with respect to attributes will receive top priority. GUI and user friendliness can suck it. Anyhoo, a little editing and some pictures later, here we are.

I’m more of a connoisseur of gaming rather than one of those hard core time-flies-by-while-I-game-like-a-mad-person type of gamer. I can sit on a level for hours just thinking what tricks they might have used for that particular type of interaction the user experiences. What can I say? Graphics intrigue me. Not solely because of the amazing amount of concise programming they would have used for optimisation.

Anyway, when I bought the PS3, I got God of War 3 free along with it. Let me tell you something – There are few games which show off the might and power of that gaming console like GoW3. Suffice it to say, even my mom, who has no interest whatsoever in gaming and looks on at blu ray with some mild interest even though each frame is about 10 times as vivid as it’s older counterparts, was thoroughly impressed. Of course, the home theatre system gave life to all the sounds of the game but the animations were really something to look at.

Kratos - Man of men.

God of War 3 is a fantasy third person action adventure game created by Santa Monica studios. I have always appreciated Sony as a company with every bit of awesome foresight in terms of what companies to buy. I mean .. Santa Monica, Naughty Dog etc. .. They’ve got their heads on straight. God of War 3 is the first game in the series to feature on the PS3. To say they have done an awesome job of it would be an understatement. The game is exceptionally good.

GoW 3 follows where it left off in GoW 2. The protagonist is a dude called Kratos. I’ll be frank here – I don’t know *how* they did it but Santa Monica somehow created a character who can make every dude feel like a girl. Kratos oozes testosterone. There is no other way I can put it. One scar across his eye, covered in ash dust, goatee, bald head, body paint , two absolutely wicked looking blades connected to him by a chain, inhuman strength owing to demi god descent, voice like a truck going over very coarse gravel. He can make any other character feel like a pussy.

Suffice it to say that if an evil genius scientist took genes from Chuck Norris, Mr T, Bruce Lee, Superman, Batman, Magneto, Charles Xavier, Goku, Cell, Silver Surfer and Galactus and whoever else you can think of and spliced them together to create the perfect being, Kratos would take all of 10 minutes to bury that guy so deep in the ground, he’d think twice about coming out and fighting again.

The story is quite complicated – Kratos is this dude who is a former Spartan warrior and has those blood tattoos exactly like his brother. He sacrifices his family and kills Ares to become the God of War and help the Spartans win. The other Gods in Olympus hate his guts and plot his downfall. Zeus takes all his power through his sword and leaves him defenceless. Finally, Kratos realises that Zeus is his father and believe me when I say this, the guys who created the character knew the meaning of “His rage was great to behold!”. Vowing vengeance against Zeus and the rest of Olympus, Kratos stands on the brink of destroying the entire planet as he kills one god after another thanks to his own inhuman demi-god strength. That is how GoW 3 starts. I don’t know what it is about that starting scene but it gives me quite an adrenaline rush.

The God of War series is actually quite famous for its gory scenes. Blood spatters and limbs are torn like nobody’s business. My mom gave up long ago on such advice as is given by the ESRB dudes to anyone who’d listen. She’s seen me play through Mortal Kombat 4, Half Life and so much else. This game, although similar (there is only so much blood you can spill … unless you are Quentin Tarantino), has some .. er, unsavoury elements. I’ll not go very deep into that but let’s just say that Aphrodite tries seducing Kratos in the middle of the game and she is dressed .. well, a little sparsely (nod to the dudes doing sparse signal processing) if I might say so. I will now list all the boss fights. You can find all this info on Wikipedia, obviously, but take it from me, the videos are worth it.

Kratos starts at the base of mount Olympus where Zeus sends all of his minion gods to defeat him. The starting scene in GoW 3 is an absolute treat. As Kratos, you are on the back of Gaia, a titan. Gaia herself is climbing on mount Olympus and you are literally hitching a ride. The whole scene is an animation and not a cut scene. The first god to fall is Poseidon. Although the kill is quite gory, this is just the start.


The context buttons (all those buttons popping up) make sure your kill looks awesome although limiting the choice. He then proceeds to kill Hades, the god of the underworld.


This is followed by Helios. Now, *this* is a murderous kill. Just watch it. Gore max btw 😀


Those monsters you saw are pretty common in the game so don’t be alarmed. Also, he uses that head as a lantern for the rest of the game. In my eyes, that defines awesome 😀

The videos get boring so I’ll just list the next few boss battles – Hermes, Hercules, Hera and finally, after much ado, Zeus. The gore in the game is absolutely soul satisfying (assuming you have a soul, of course). In the end, Kratos has killed all the gods and released the power of hope, which he had unwittingly taken from the Pandora’s Box, by driving Zeus’ sword through himself.

You can see a trail of blood showing that Kratos is alive but wounded. This is confirmed since there are rumours that the next instalment is coming out. Santa Monica outdoes itself every time. I wonder how they’ll outdo this masterpiece. I can’t frickin wait though m/