Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol

When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.

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My Past
Loyola High School Patna
Delhi Public School RK Puram
Institute of Technology BHU
Infosys Technologies Ltd
IIM Kozhikode

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Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

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My Life

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Movie Reviews at Mode C

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Batman Begins
War of the Worlds
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Bunty aur Babli
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Veer Zaara
Phir Milenge
Kyun! Ho Gaya Na
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Spider Man 2
Main Hoon Na

Book Reviews at Mode C

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
The Inscrutable Americans
Harry Potter - Half-Blood Prince
The Monk who sold his Ferrari
Angels and Demons
Life of Pi
The Da Vinci Code
The Tristan Betrayal

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Monday, May 24, 2004
The denimic (dynamic) future

Milind Deora…Sachin Pilot…Rahul Gandhi…Omar Abdullah…Jyotiraditya Scindia…these are just some of the young faces that the Indian Parliament is going to play host to, when it goes into session after the recent General Elections. They might as well come to the Central Hall in jeans and tees, contrasting with and yet not mocking the khaki of yore. In fact, they complement it, bring a fresh whiff of air, a riot of color to the dull proceedings of parliament (well, not always dull) least that is what Mani Ratnam wants us to believe, and let me tell you, Mr. Ratnam, I, for one, do believe you.

Yuva is a sincere effort at telling a sincere story in a sincere format. The director has decided that he wants to show something to his audience in a certain way and contrary to the norm in the Indian movie industry, has succeeded in not making a mess of it. In fact, he has done a creditable job by actually making what he started out to make. If this effort of his does not appeal to a section of the audience, it is not the director who is at fault and it can only be said that the perception of all people, regarding something so widely discussed and analyzed as a Mani Ratnam movie, can never be the same.

Like Saathiya, Yuva starts with an incident, goes back to show the build-up towards the incident, and then again moves forward to bring the story to its logical conclusion. The difference from Saathiya is that unlike Saathiya, there are three different characters central to the incident and to the events that follow and the build-up part of the story has to be branched out in three parts to do full justice to all the three characters.

Lallan (Abhishek Bachchan) has come to Kolkata from a small place called Chandauli in the state of Uttar Pradesh (this place is near Varanasi, and I have been there a number of times during my college days). He follows the lead of his elder brother who is a goon in the service of a corrupt politician (Om Puri) and becomes an odd-job man who works on contract. Lallan has a wife in Shashi (Rani Mukherjee) who always comes back to him, despite beatings, threats, and Lallan’s continued dangerous and illegal living style. Lallan is told to beat up and threaten the students who have dared to contest Panchayat elections against the party of Dada (Om Puri). He is finally asked to kill the leader of the student political awakening after the students come down to his brother’s house and beat up the goons there.

The story then moves on to Michael Mukherjee (Ajay Devgan) who is a brilliant student (has even received a scholarship to work under a Nobel laureate in US) but who, like his father, wants to work for his country. He leads the students to villages where they persuade the people to defeat the candidates of Dada’s party and elect their own people instead in the Panchayat elections. Michael is assisted in his endeavors by his childhood sweetheart (played by Esha Deol) who teaches French in college when she is not roaming about with Michael to the villages of Bengal. When Michael looks set to become too dangerous a foe by even beating up Gopal, Lallan’s brother and Dada’s chief goon, Dada orders Lallan to bump off Michael once and for all.

After the intermission, we are introduced to Arjun (Vivek Oberoi), who plays a character that most of us would be able to identify with. Arjun has no confusion in his mind. He is selfish, he is fun, and he is a playboy. He flirts with girls, enjoys discos and plans to leave to US for higher studies. He finally finds his match in Meera (Kareena Kapoor) who is equally carefree and charismatic. He starts to really love her but she finally decides to say good bye to him to get married to the groom of her parents’ choice. All this, but not before one final try by Arjun to woo Meera back on the Howrah bridge where he witnesses Lallan shoot Michael.

This is where the three threads of the story meet and move ahead. In a well concluded end, Arjun gets convinced by Michael and enters politics (even gets back Meera in the bargain, who sees Arjun on TV, and comes back to him, all impressed with his heroics). Four students, including Michael and Arjun stand for the bye-elections. The police, in the meanwhile, is hot on Lallan’s scent after the attempted murder of Michael. Lallan joins forces with Dada and kidnaps all other candidates except Michael and holds them to ransom. The students are finally able to escape Lallan but not before Lallan starts following Arjun on the second Hooghly bridge in a deadly chase. In the middle of the chase, Arjun manages to grab the mobile phone of a passer-by and calls Michael to the rendezvous for the climax of the movie.

And what a super climax it turns out to be, one of the best and most wonderfully executed scenes in the Hindi movie history. Though a little high on gore, the scene proves Ratnam’s technical wizardry beyond any doubt. In no way inferior to any scene from any Hollywood flick, this scene sees the three central characters battle it out on the high traffic bridge. With vehicles zooming past as the fight scene unfolds, frame by frame, it sure is a treat to watch.

Acting wise, Abhishek Bachchan is superb. He had to come to terms with his brooding personality and his flair for roles like these, sooner or later. Mani Ratnam has surely portrayed the best of Abhishek to the audience and I would say, later than sooner. Rani Mukherjee is a class act, as expected from an actress of her caliblre. Ajay Devgan is as usual, good and despite being typecast as the brooding, silent and yet angry executioner, he carries his role well. However, it certainly would have helped if Ratnam had chosen to show Devgan as a fiery young professor than a young student, because if anything, Devgan sure looks above 30 years. Esha Deol, for a change, looks cute and naughty. In fact, I was surprised by the way she has performed and managed to look good too. Vivek and Kareena are good because they have not over played their parts and have stayed within their roles, giving a good performance. Om Puri is also good in his role of the corrupt politician (certainly not challenging enough for an actor of his caliber). I personally felt that Ratnam could have made much better use of this actor.

Over all, the film appeals not just to the classes but equally so to the masses. The final scene when the four elected candidates make way to the Legislature in denim jeans and shirts is really encouraging and promising. The timing of the movie’s release could not have been better. The movie portrays the entry of youth into the political arena, youth who are well-educated, qualified, have opportunities to study abroad, earn money and yet those who can do much more than merely crib about the nation’s bad state. With the face of Indian politics actually changing, and the young people (even if they are here because of their surnames) actually changing the color of the Parliament, Yuva is a welcome movie and a very realistic indicator of the times…

Posted at 02:09 pm by Nitai

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Sunday, May 23, 2004
One two cha cha cha

What an awesome weekend this is turning out to be. From the Pizza Hut treat last night to Kormangla it was, after we finally convinced Ankur to stay with us for the night and not leave for his village (!!!) immediately. But this was not the end of celebrations, if that is what you prefer to call it. We came down to MG Road again, at 2 in the night and it was really awesome. The chaiwallahs there and the number of people stopping by for a cuppa of chai while they smoked or simply chilled out was too good. It reminded us so much of Lanka, of BHU, of Varanasi...

After a brilliant Saturday, it was the turn of a blissful Sunday. With Bangalore weather chipping in with the occasional shower and a consistently good climate the whole day, we had more fun than I could possible digest in a single day. Today was the turn of the Infosys training batch and I had decided that I will try to meet as many of them as possible and have the dinner treat with all of them together. I knew that there have been problems between Sweta and Richa, and many more apart from it, but I really wanted to have a get-together of all for one last time before I left for IIMK.

Luckily for me, things turned out the way I wanted them to, and even better. Starting with a round of parathas at the local joint with yesterday's crowd, I went on to Sushant's place to have a bath and get ready for the party today. Sushant, as usual, was not there. We got ready and went to Richa's place to pick up Sushant and go in the search of movie tickets for Yuva, the latest and much awaited flick by Mani Ratnam. Luckily we found two familiar faces (familiar to Sushant) in the one mile long queue. Unashamed, unchallenged, we got in the middle of the queue and somehow got 7 tickets for 5 people despite the strict instructions given at the counter that there will be only one ticket given per person. It certainly helped that a girl was asking for the tickets and she had the exact change ready. We really have learnt to strategize, what?

Richa and his cousin joined us after we had the tickets all secured. After a lot of discussion and one full to the brim Chinese restaurant, we had a good lunch at MarryBrown before finally getting all wet in the rain and moving on to the theatre for three hours of good and solid entertainment.

After a brilliant movie (I really liked it), we decided to go back to Richa's place and collect our snaps of the Ooty trip. I particularly wanted these as I am really looking more photogenic in these snaps than I have ever been in my life (apart from the time when I was this cute little kid some eons ago). I might scan these and put them on my web profile (to impress a lot of girls??? :-)). The weather was again turning out to be a darling and we sat in the balcony at Richa's place planning for the treat tonight. After some phone calls and some already booked restaurants and some obscenely costly ones (which Richa rejected right away, nice girl!), we finally settled on a restaurant called 'A pinch of Jazz'.

Bangalore is one cool place, I have always believed this of the city. Yesterday night's party convinced me yet again of the truth of the above matter. What a place this was, 'A pinch of Jazz' and what a night to go there. Sunday night was dance competition night and today's dance categories were Cha cha cha and Salsa. I don't really know much about these dance forms but there were people in the party who actually did. So many pretty faces dancing with so many smart hunks really made for a great, bright and colorful evening. The food was okay but the ambience, awesome. Sweta was asked for a dance by some guy from the nearby table but she refused. Had I known how to dance, I would have asked out the organizer of the night ( and would have been refused too, most probably), who was looking oh-so-pretty in the red dress (red as a rose?) with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other (I would have preferred her without these but...). The long and short of it was that when Animesh had to leave for the bus in the middle of the dance, his was one sorry face and when he finally got to know (after reaching the bus stand) that his bus actually left some 45 minutes later, his was one sorry SMS...

We had to catch a train at 11:30 but a round of ice cream was pending before we finally said our good-byes. I had always wanted to go to this place called Corner House, which according to some of my best sources, is a really cool place to have some really nice and sinful ice cream. There we were, all six of us, eating ice cream together, Chandna making his chin eat more than his mouth, Sweta scolding him, Sushant generally making a mess of things and Richa silently criticizing him, me and Puneet having a good laugh at all this. She alone was not there from our training days and luckily so. I might not have enjoyed as much. Otherwise, it was exactly like it used to be when we came back from our training days in Chennai Infosys, and used to sit down in some restaurant or the other for a long meal before finally leaving for the night and re-joining again at the bus stop next day…

Posted at 10:58 pm by Nitai

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Saturday, May 22, 2004
Old memories

She called me up almost as soon as I reached Bangalore. Sweta had called up earlier and might have told her that I am in town. She might have known even otherwise. Why did she call...I really don't know. To congratulate me...that she had already done in her typical one-line-email way: "Congrats! Have a nice time there". To ask for a treat...she never did ask me for any treat though we talked for about 15 minutes and there was a lot of mention of how I am going to loose my entire bank balance in Bangalore. To just talk to that is simply ridiculous. Whatever be the reason, her call was a jolt that I was not expecting and I would certainly have been better off without it. I was confused about her when we were both in Chennai, during our training days at Infosys and I guess that I still am confused about her. Did I really love her then and do even now? Did I love her then and have grown out of that now? Did I love her then and hate her now? Did I just want her as my best friend then and still do? Did I just want her as my best friend then and not more than an acquaintance now? I don't know and perhaps, I never will. One thing, however, is certain and that is the fact that my going to IIMK means that there is very little chance of my seeing her again and I really feel like saying 'good riddance'.

We (I and Puneet, my room-mate) had decided to keep the luggage at Sushant's place and then move on to meet our respective friends from there. Sushant was not at home when we reached there. Chandna was, and was in a very good mood, compared to the last time I was here. In fact, I had thought after the last time, that I would hardly be talking to Chandna the same old way but this time, it was certainly much better and he did seem like the Chandna of old. Radhika came up when we were almost about to leave. I don't know what her problem is. She certainly feels as if I am intruding on her property somehow, whenever I come to these guys' house. The way she looks at me says very clearly that either she considers herself to be among the clouds or me in the dirt. Whatever it is, it is her problem and hopefully, not mine. Anyway, I am not at all comfortable with people from whom I get such negative vibes.

Keeping aside these one-off things that happened, the rest of Saturday was as good as it could have been. I really had so much fun and after a long time, too. Animesh had come down from Mangalore and Ankur had come down from his own village in Bangalore (Yeshwantpur, to be exact). We had a whale of a time, roaming around Forum, the new mall at Kormangala in Bangalore, passing comments on all pairs and singletons, getting rowdy, re-living the college days. We then moved on to MG Road, discussed our lives, futures, got all nostalgic about college, and almost ended up in the nearest pub (not actually, just figuratively). Finally, sense prevailed and we moved on to Pizza Hut for the much awaited treat. The sacrificial goats this time were Animesh for his coming onsite trip and of course, the poor me. Somebody at the nearby table had a birthday and the Pizza Hut people really made a bash of it. They made the poor girl stand on the top of a chair and wave to the Saturday evening crowd while they sang the birthday song (we pitched in, too). For a moment, we thought we would celebrate the birthday of Animesh but I guess, they would have seen through it (they might even have given some discount, was my take)...


Posted at 11:35 pm by Nitai

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Friday, May 21, 2004
The mysterious affair at IIMK

Having read so many of the spy books and watched so many of the spy movies (of both the unbelievable Indian Crooke Bond types and the somewhat believable-due-to-gadgetry English James Bond types), I always tend to find reasons where there are (or may be :-)) none. While browsing the net yesterday (I hardly seem to do anything else nowadays), I came across the IIMK intranet site and started wondering about the reason for it not being mentioned by even a single senior, either in the e-group or on any other forum. Considering that the e-group of the '06 batch is already some 350 mails old, this will look fishy to almost any and every one.

I decided to go one step ahead and delve deep into this intranet site and try to figure out for myself, the reason for it being hidden (or not being shown, whichever way you look at it) from the eyes of us juniors. Believe me, even one hour after I started delving deep (I had exhausted the material on the site by this time, even read through the charter for different committees at IIMK), I could not find any reason (good, bad or ugly) for my not having come across this site earlier. There was Darpan, the student's space that really required much more than what it had. The news section was nothing but one-liners and there was nothing at all that could, so to say, attract the passerby. Well, I certainly agree that it is difficult for an IIM student to hold his life together, forget maintaining a web site, but then again, there is the site of IIMC which is much better on some counts with students pitching in to make the place more lively and interesting. I don't know if I am putting my feet into the wrong thing (which I almost always do) but I believe that if I get a like minded group of some (even a few), I will definitely like to contribute something to the cause, but all that comes later...much later.

Things are, in deed, looking a shape better now. I had a bad dream last night about Maa and I called her up first thing in the morning. I had one more-than-half-hour-long conversation with her (hundred bucks woof....gone) and I felt absolutely cool and relaxed after it. I went ahead and called up Nani (my maternal grandma) too and spoke to her about so many things...she cares so much about me that at times, I almost get overwhelmed, especially when she starts asking about my health, even though she might have had a blood sugar reading exceeding 200 herself. Priya (my sister) is also there with Nani in Patna presently. She has her entrance exams for the journalism course at Indian Institute of Mass Communication today. Maa is so worried about her career that she hardly sleeps nowadays. I hope that Priya is able to decide fast on what she wants to do. She is interested in Interior Designing but I feel that she is suppressing her ambition just because some of her friends told her that she won't be able to get a good start in this field. She is looking for so many other options, including journalism, finance (she has just completed her B.Com), advertising, and much more.

I have been trying to talk to her, to convince her to go with her heart and do something that she really wants to do. Having spent two years in the software industry, I know how it feels to be stuck with doing something that you don't really want to do. All things said and done, however, I feel that she will learn only after she has burnt her fingers herself. There is no other way, I guess, or is there? I wish I knew...

Posted at 12:24 pm by Nitai

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Thursday, May 20, 2004
The Ludlum betrayal

I have hardly read any Ludlum novel without finally wondering why I went for it. It is not that I don't like the books or I am one of those looking-down-at-the-potboilers types. On the contrary, I do like the stuff that he writes but more often than not, his books disappoint once I am through to the end. They never really leave the reader with the joy of reading a PG Wodehouse, the fun of reading a Spider Man comic, the mind-numbing feeling of reading an Ayn Rand, or even the cheap thrill of reading a Sidney Sheldon. What I mean is that even if you take the Star Wars novel that I am currently reading after having done with the Ludlum caper, I am sure that I will have a much better experience after I have finsihed reading it, all the time thinking about Jedi masters and their light sabers figting against the dark side and all the rest of it.

The Tristan Betrayal by Robert Ludlum is a little different from his other works but the difference, unfortunately, is not positive. The book goes one step ahead with the second half of the book destroying the user's interest peel by peel after a painstaking process of forming those layers in the first half. The book starts with the modern Moscow (well, not really modern, some 13 years ago) when the communist powers in Soviet Union are doomed to an end and democracy has seen its first dawn with the eyes of Gorbachev. The book depicts the unrest, anxiety and confusion prevailing in the Moscow city briefly, and yet, with panache. The story unfolds to let the reader know that there is only one person known as 'The Conductor', who can actually prevent the situation from going bad and give that final push to the Russian democracy and prevent the fanatical communists from dragging Russia back to the darkness. The only person who can convince 'The Conductor' to do so is Stephen Metcalfe, the honorary Ambassador from the United States. He is called to Russia by his old friend, a reputed and celebrated General in the Russian Army. The real reason for the effect that Ambassador Metcalfe has over ‘The Conductor’ is what forms the basis of the story. It is hidden from the reader till the very end and though it will be unfair to disclose something like this in any review of the book, I must say that the reason falls flat on its face when it is finally disclosed. Instead of a well crafted and thrilling finish that the story and no doubt, the author, was capable of, Ludlum decided the end to be a low key affair which, in my humble opinion, robbed the book of one too many loyal fans.

The story in The Tristan Betrayal goes into the flashback to show that Metcalfe was an American secret agent working in the Second World War on the orders of Corcoran, who reported to Roosevelt himself. Metcalfe is shown to have quite a reputation for being a shameless womanizer and it is this quality (???) of his, added to the fact that he, along with his brother, is the owner of the celebrated US business giant, Metcalfe Industries, that enables him to make a foothold in Nazi occupied France as Daniel, a 'Ladies Man' who goes about stealing Nazi secrets from the beds of the mistresses, wives and sisters of Nazi officers. He is as successful as he can be, till his base in Paris is exposed to the enemies and they kill all his colleagues. The person responsible for this expose and the cruel killings of the American ‘spy’ base is the dreaded ‘Violinist’ (too much of music, The Conductor and then The Violinist) who is shown to be a nightmare over the entire story until he actually dies at the hands of Metcalfe, like a stupid villain of the Hindi movies.
Anyway, to cut the long story short, after the not-so-successful Paris stint, Metcalfe is given another assignment by his boss, Corky, to go to Moscow and re-kindle his old flame, Swetlana, who is the prime ballerina in the Bolshoi Theatre. The purpose, Corky says, of this assignment is to find out if the Nazi Officer who has Lana as his mistress, is actually someone who can be turned away from Hitler and used as an agent. However, when Metcalfe lands there and is able to re-affirm his affections with Lana, he finds out that the German officer can not really be converted and that this was not the real purpose of his mission. His mission is to actually provide the Nazis and ultimately, to Hitler, false information about the Russian Army. This information has to be passed by Lana to the German officer as Lana is the daughter of a high ranking Russian General. To do all this, Metcalfe has to lie to Lana and since he is actually in love with Lana, he can not really go about all this lying business without a twinge (just a twinge, mind it…he is in the league of James Bond, of course, the ruthless womanizer) of guilt. The information to be conveyed to the Nazis has been forged and falsified to give the wrong idea to Nazis that The Russian Red Army is actually weak and thus, to entice the Fuhrer to attack Russia and go to his doom and take the communists down with him, in the process (one arrow and two targets, what???) . The plan works but only after a sacrifice by Lana, who has to get herself arrested and executed by the Russians for selling military secrets to the Germans to convince Hitler and his Generals of the authenticity of the forged reports that were passed though her.

As I mentioned earlier, all this looks fine and is quite interesting, too and the reader is actually waiting for the suspense to unravel and tell him about the real secret that has been carried all these years from the time of The Second World War to The 1990 Russia and how this secret actually relates to both Ambassador Metcalfe and 'The Conductor'. However, the way Ludlum treats this secret actually belies the craftsmanship with which he has woven the rest of the story. Ultimately, the book is good and might interest the first timer or the average Ludlum reader but to hardcore Ludlum readers like me, who have hardly left any Ludlum book unread despite the now-tiresome formula that almost all his books follow, the book is a big let-down.

Posted at 02:10 pm by Nitai

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