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.

<< June 2005 >>
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My Past
Loyola High School Patna
Delhi Public School RK Puram
Institute of Technology BHU
Infosys Technologies Ltd
IIM Kozhikode

My Present
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

My Future
My Life

Project Nanhi Kali for the girl child

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

IIM Kozhikode Bloggers

Abhinav (Class of '05)
Aditya (Class of '06)
Alok (Class of '05)
Alok (Class of '09)
Ananya (Class of '08)
Andromeda (Class of '08)
Amit G (Class of '07)
Beena (Class of '08)
Chirantan (Class of '08)
DAR (Class of '07)
Deepak (Class of '05)
Dhananjay (Class of '05)
Divya (Class of '05)
Divyabhanu (Class of '07)
Firdaus (Class of '07)
Harsh (Class of '08)
Hemant (Class of '05)
Hitesh (Class of '08)
IIMK Photo Blog
Jayesh (Class of '08)
Kanav (Class of '06)
Karan (Class of '05)
Narayanan (Class of '07)
Manandeep (Class of '08)
Meren (Class of '06)
Nilanjan (Class of '06)
Paromita (Class of '07)
Pragna (Class of '03)
Pranay (Class of '06)
Prashant D (Class of '05)
Prashant JK (Class of '06)
Pratik (Class of '07)
Priya (Class of '06)
Rahul (Class of '08)
Ramesh (Class of '06)
Ridhi (Class of '07)
Ronald (Class of '05)
Saurabh (Class of '08)
Sheeba (Class of '07)
Shrikanth (Class of '08)
Sriram (Class of '07)
Suma (Class of '07)
Sumit (Class of '06)
Surabhi (Class of '06)
Surya (Class of '08)
Tity (Class of '05)
Vivek (Class of '09)
Yash (Class of '06)

Other B-school Bloggers

Chandoo (IIM Indore, Class of '06)
Nishith (IIM Lucknow, Class of '06)
Ravi (IIM Ahmedabad, Class of '06)
Shashank (IIM Calcutta, Class of '05)
Sidin (IIM Ahmedabad, Class of '05)

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Interesting Reads

A walk in the clouds
Bollywood Blog
Global Trends Collaborative
Sepia Mutiny
The Movie Blog
Youth Curry

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All pictures and names concerning Calvin and Hobbes are copyright Bill Watterson

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Saturday, June 25, 2005
Fable in a fable

You are sitting in the middle of a magnificent, lush, green garden. This garden is filled with the most spectacular flowers you have ever seen. The environment is supremely tranquil and silent. Savour the sensual delights of this garden and feel as if you have all the time in the world to enjoy this natural oasis. As you look around you see that in the center of this magical garden stands a towering, red lighthouse, six stories high. Suddenly, the silence of the garden is disturbed by a creaking sound as the door at the base of the lighthouse opens. Out stumbles a nine-foot-tall, nine-hundred-pound Japanese sumo wrestler who casually wanders into the center of the garden.

It gets better. The Japanese sumo wrestler is naked! Well, actually he is not totally naked. He has a pink wire cable covering his private parts.

As this sumo wrestler starts to move around the garden, he finds a shiny gold stopwatch which someone had left behind many years earlier. He slips it on, and falls to the ground with an enormous thud. The sumo wrestler is rendered unconscious and lies there, silent and still. Just when you think he has taken his last breath, the wrestler awakens, perhaps stirred by the fragrance of some fresh yellow roses blooming nearby. Energized, the wrestler jumps swiftly to his feet and intuitively looks to his left. He is startled at what he sees. Through the bushes at the very edge of the garden, he observes a long winding path covered by millions of sparkling diamonds. Something seems to instruct the wrestler to take the path, and to his credit, he does. This path leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

I have never been one of those who are easily impressed by the self-improvement or the get-rich-soon books. In fact, it has always been the reverse and I have made no bones about laughing at those who read such books, believing them to have just too much spare time at hand or mentally challenged. I always wondered that if the authors really knew techniques such as these, why were they still writing books, of all things. I had picked up this book, one of the latest and more popular self-improvement books (in fact, I was not really sure if it was that when I laid my hands on it) only because of the first reason I mentioned, that is having quite some time on hand.

Having gone through the book in two seatings, however, I realized that the succinct manner in which the book is written and the effective way in which it conveys its message is something that can not be found so easily in any other book of the same class. The fable above is the only thing that the book talks about. It uses this amazingly simple and unbelievably absurd fable to give a list of principles that will help improve the quality of life. Robin Sharma is no sage and he does not tell us something that none of us least the Indians know most of what he is speaking of and have actually employed most of the principles mentioned in the book as a part of their routine lives.

However, it is clear and apparently obvious that the book is not meant for India or Indians. Robin Sharma, in a seemingly calculated move, makes sure that even the protagonist is the typical workaholic American with dollars to spare for the eastern new age fads...Yoga, Gurus, and books like these. Julian Mantle, a hot shot lawyer gets burnt with his work filled life and after a heart attack that rings the warning bells for him, he sells off all his possessions (including a Ferrari and thus the name) and goes for an odyssey to the east.

After roaming about much of India, he finds peace and enlightenment through the teachings of the sages of the Sivana who live in isolation in the deep reaches of the Himalayas. Having committed to spreading the wisdom that he has gained, Julian comes back to America and pays a visit to his one time colleague and junior lawyer who was pretty close to him during his materialistic days. As Julian gives this discourse and pours out his heart and knowledge to his newly-found pupil, the readers of the book travel along with the two on this odyssey to a supposedly tension free life that promises nothing short of the elixir of everlasting youth.

Unlike other such books where after a decent beginning, much of the rest would have been lost in some disconnected rambling, the best part of this book is the way it connects the ideas spread across the entire (200 pages long) book through the fable above. As Julian tells John, his pupil, the secrets of life, he tells him that each element of the fable above represents one of the factors that need to be considered if a sattvic life is to be experienced. While the garden is compared to the mind, the lighthouse represents the purpose of life. Similarly, the sumo wrestler represents kaizen for self improvement and even the wire cable he wears represents the will power of human beings.

The book goes on to describe not just the ideas as represented by the elements of the fable but even gives some practical techniques to implement the ideas. The summary at the end of the chapters, mentioning the fable element, the virtue, and the techniques to achieve that virtue is another effective tool used by the author to tie his strings.

I am not sure how helpful the book is going to be in improving anyone's life (though some of the ideas are really common sense and do seem to be helpful). The important thing, nevertheless, is that the book brings together many of the things we already know but have no time to think about in cohesion. Even more importantly, all this is done in style and the use of the fable within a fable is a master stroke that is earning Robin Sharma the millions he rightly deserves (well, perhaps he does not deserve millions for telling us what we already know but that is what he is getting, fortunately or unfortunately).

Posted at 11:23 pm by Nitai

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Thursday, June 23, 2005
Love gives life, or does it?

I see that your aim is as bad as your cooking!

And you never even remembered to send a card to my mother on her birthdays...
...yeah, the mother who never existed!

If you wanted to see Angelina pout...if you wanted to see Brad charm you off your plush multiplex got it. If you wanted a good movie, however...ahem, you just might look elsewhere. Mr. and Mrs. Smith appeals because its stars do and an amazing appeal Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do have! Widely voted as the two most beautiful faces on this earth, the lead actors try their best to make this movie pass but ultimately, the lack of any coherent subject matter and rather shoddy treatment of the strings of the narrative prevent the movie from making the mark.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith are the neighborhood couple up for a split. The movie starts with a visit of the couple to the marriage counsellor beacuse each of them feels that the other is a bore. In reality, their jobs are anything but boring. Both of them work for rival spy agencies that kill for money/honor/whatever but since they don't bring their work home, they never know what the other is up to. In fact, this is one place where the story falls flat for the first and most significant time. It is difficult to believe that even after six years of married life and staying together, not only do they not know what the reasons for the other's late entry into the house and the scars on the bodies are, but also they have no idea that their partner has hidden away weapons in the house.

The movie catches pace with the rival agencies giving conflicting assignments to John and Jane Smith and with the assignments having gone awry, it now becomes the task of each of them to finish the other off within 48 hours or get him/her self finished. As one numbing (and often unbelievably James Bond-esque) action sequence follows another and as the two realize the identity of the secret agent that they are after, the tone of the movie is set. Mixed with the action sequences are the elements of romantic comedy with the couple finally realizing that killing each other is not so easy and that they have always been lying to each other about themselves.

It would be wrong to say that there are no funny moments in the movie...there are quite a few, especially when they start talking about the background of each other before marriage, as it actually was and as they presented it to the other. The movie loses focus, however, when these sequences start becoming way too predictable and instead of actually bringing that smile on the viewer's face for the originality of the one-liners, they (the one-liners) mostly make the audience wince.

After the customary and predictable love making and make up between the couple in the intermission comes the next most obvious twist in the plot. The two form a team to defeat the forces that initially make them bay for each other's they are to save their skins from their assasins but this time, together. This is where even the comedy part goes for a sabbatical and only the John Woo style action is left to supposedly entertain the audience. With bulletproof jackets playing God, it becomes difficult to appreciate even these well-shot sequences: culprit is, without any doubt, lack of originality in conceptualization and execution of these sequences.

From the directorial aspect, Doug Liman does a decent job with the screenplay that he has been given. In the scenes between Brad and Angelina (especially the ball dance scene), he does manage to spark some sort of chemistry between two otherwise cold beauties. However, in the action sequences, he tries too much to follow the Hong Kong style of eyes-closed-shooting that starts getting on the nerves after some time. Since the movie does not have much of anything else (apart from action) to offer, the nerves tend to suffer quite a bit. This does not, however, take away from the camera and the action departments which do a credible job. Had it not been for the lack of involvement in proceedings that a seemingly disintegrated chain of events brought along with it, the effect of the action sequences (with the last one being close to choreography) could have been much better.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie look like a million bucks each and Angelina even manages to raise a few laughs with her dead-pan humor but Brad fails miserably with an un-cool performance that is certainly not expected from as BIG a star as he is. The best deal is clinched by Vince Vaughan, who plays John Smith's best friend and trusted comrade-in-arms. He does raise a few laughs by his dumb act but can not salvage the movie because of his relatively small role and some real chances of an overkill had he tried more than what he did. Rest of the cast are there to just fill the gaps and the movie tries to rest on the capable shoulders of Pitt and Jolie alone, which, for a change, fail to stand up to the load this time.

Posted at 07:35 pm by Nitai

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005
From tags to...

The game of tagging people on their blog spaces has been on for quite some time and I must say that the ingenuity of the person who started it for the very first time needs to be appreciated. The very methodical nature by which he/she chose the topics for these chain blog posts, viz., books, movies, and music, is something in its own class. Almost no body would mind writing about his/her favorite books, movies or music and anyway, that is what most of us who write blogs do.

What beats me, however, is the reason why this person started the chain blog thing. In case of a chain email, I can understand the commercial motives in probably trying to earn some money through scrupulous (as in advertising) or unscrupulous (as in stealing confidential information through viruses, et al) means. But, how different bloggers mentioning their favorite books, movies, or music can benefit anyone is beyond my comprehension. The only thing that I can think of right now is that it may live up to the ego of the starter and I guess that is reason enough, or is it?

The weather outside my room being heavenly, I am currently very highly motivated for another round of the inviting pillow and mattress routine (just got up an hour ago). As such, I don't really want to get too much into the psyche of the original tagger. Instead, I will just do my job and since I do not basically enjoy getting my neck on the line, I won't specifically tag anyone. However, any of the people whose blog links exist on the left panel of this page are welcome to carry the chain ahead if they wish. :-)

Number of books I own:

As Karan, the person who tagged me said, are you serious? There are too many to have a count of. The last count I did was when I left high school and took back my books (and comics) from the neighborhood library I was a partner in. They returned me some 350 comic books, nearly 35-40 novels (of the likes of Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, etc) and about 20 odd classics (which belonged to my uncle at the time). Over the years, there have been many additions to this collection and I have absolutely no idea where it stands right now.

Presently reading:

[Reading again]
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

[Reading for the first time]
Dilbert and the way of the weasel

In the pipeline:

[In my possession]
Atlas Shrugged

[To buy/beg/borrow/steal and read]
Harry Potter and the half-blood prince
The Monk who sold his Ferrari
Five point Someone

Recently read:

The Da Vinci Code
Angels and Demons
Digital Fortress
Deception Point
(Yes, I was on a Dan Brown spree!)

Some of my favorites:

Gone with the wind
The immensely intricately etched characters of Scarlett and Rhett were the irresistible features of this epic saga that spanned across the American civil war. It appealed to me primarily because of the emotional strength of the female characters which is what I also appreciate in real life (all girls reading this post and swooning over its writer please note :-))

Yes Minister (and Yes Prime Minister)
Comedy at its subtle and satirical best! The television soap was good but the way readers of the book are exposed to the diaries and letters of the charcters in this political comedy is something that really completes the picture. There could hardly be any better way to portray the politics of a country as much in discussion as the UK but more than that, the treatment of the subject is exquisite...nothing banal about it at all...typical bureaucratic class at its best.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The play of fantasy and at the same time, some back-to-the-roots fight between good and evil appealed ever so much to the readers of this book. More than anything else, the book made an impression on me not because of what it presented but because of what it promised to present in near future. This has now become a hallmark of JKR's Harry Potter series: each book reveals some things and promises to reveal so much more the next time around.

Lord of the Rings
Yes, I am rather given to the fantasy bug and I really like the magical creatures and the stories of good versus evil where the good finally defeats the evil and all is well but that is how I am! The darkness of the villains in this epic, though not in the same league as you-know-who, was enough to justify the supernatural blessings that were showered upon the ring bearer and his troupe. I really digged the elves and the kings and dwarves and all the others!

Tale of two cities
One of the first classics that I ever read, it actually exposed me to the dark side of man and how even fantastic motives like liberty can turn man to monster and how vengeance can take ugly shapes. This book reduced the naivette with which I used to view the world and given the early period in which I read it, it was also the first book to introduce the ways of the west to me and was a sort of first entry for me into the European way of life and what an entry it was!

Posted at 12:05 pm by Nitai

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The travails of travelling

As I sit in my room in the G hostel (yes, I am back to G after wishing a heartfelt farewell to it just a few months ago), overlooking the rain and feel strange for the umpteenth time about the difference in weather between this place and back home (compared to the heat wave there, this place is cold, what with the incessant rains for the past so many days), I can still hear my stomach growl. And enough reasons it has to growl, too. The long journey from home to Kozhikode is just that...long and without anyone to accompany you, it is immensely boring and frigtening, too.

The very first thing that hit me as I entered into the compartment of the superfast train to Mumbai was the bad smell coming out of the pantry car which was right next to my coach. Somehow, I knew right then that the poor stomach is going to get a rough treatment and given the heat wave that was lashing against North and Central India with all its fury at the time, there couldn't have been a worse time for such a thing to happen. As expected, the dysentry set in as soon as the train crossed the borders of Uttar Pradesh and with the last of water bottles over, I struggled to the pantry car only to find it locked.

With no water, dysentry having set in and diarrhoea to follow, and most importantly, no stoppage for the next seven-eight hours (this one was a long distance superfast train, remember!), I had a terrible time and could just manage to somehow stay alive till the next day when water came and with it came the comparatively milder climate of Maharashtra (with the Rain Gods having blessed the state a little earlier). As I reached Mumbai in the evening and tugged my heavy luggage along to the local station to get on to Panvel from where I had to catch my next train, I was feeling better, but just a little.

The next day, however, proved to be my saviour as the wonders of the Konkan railway route once again put me in the poetic and romantic and nostalgic mode. I forgot about my stomach pains for quite some time...lost in the beauty and the memories. The frequent stoppages helped, too, as I could get down and stretch my limbs every now and then and the fresh air that went inside me during each of these stretches worked wonders that no medicine could have.

God's own campus is living up to its nomenclature and I can just imagine the amazement with which the new batch would make their first entry into the campus. Last night, we had an introduction session with whatever little of the new batch that is already on campus (people in for the remedial course or the early arrivals). There are some people who are good, some who are very good and of course, the people who appear to be rotten apples as of now. But then, prejudice is bad for health and I will reserve my opinions till I see more of these people and more of the rest of the batch.

Posted at 01:43 pm by Nitai

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Thursday, June 16, 2005
Of handwork and french cuts

Although this is a back-dated post, I still wanted to write about what happened to me a few days ago in my sleepy little village (particularly sleepy given the heat wave which makes practically anything else too difficult). As the readers of this blog may be aware, I hail from a small village called Pandeypatti in the district of Buxar in Bihar. This village, as the name suggests, is the fiefdom of a particular caste (of the many that rule the Bihar landscape) and much of what happens here  is guided by the whims and fancies of the village superiors...or it used to be guided by the above. Recently, there has been a marked change in the way the proceedings are carried out and even I have been able to notice it over my last few small visits.

The Buxar town that is flanked by villages like Pandeypatti (that form the Buxar district) is an interesting study, too. With four cinema halls, one big market (big by the rural standards, that is), two mandis (make-shift markets that meet twice or thrice a week and act as a meeting point for sellers and buyers across the district), and one shady Government hospital, the place has got little to boast of apart from the historic battlefield where the famous Battle of Buxar was fought (and which has now been converted into the political playground).

Enough of background now! Let's cut down to what exactly prompted me to write all this. Actually, it was a combination of two incidents that happened one after the other, one in Buxar town and the other in my own village. Taking them in the chronological order, the first of these incidents happened when I was on a visit to the Doctor of Homeopathy who has impressed my mother and sister by his smart talk and some lucky medicine selection that seems to have worked for their repective ailments. My ailment, as per my much-impressed and much-concerned mother and sister, is my thinning mane which needs something to be done about it if there is any chance to marry me off (ok, the marriage part was my addition of the spice, but you get the point, don't you?).

So as I was explaining the encumberances of desired matrimony to this doctor, he suddenly pops up a question and I am taken aback a little, considering the passion with which I was tring to communicate all the worries of my mother and sister and the reciprocal passion with which the doctor put the question to me.

Doctor: Night fall hota hai? (Do you experience night fall?)
Me: Huh?
Doctor: Night fall (with the fall spelt as phaaaal, as if to make me understand)
Me: umm nahi, normally to nahi, kyun? (Well, no...not normally. Why?)
Doctor: Hast kriya (literally translated, Hand Work)?
Me: kya (What)???
Doctor: Hast Kriya karte hain? (Do you indulge in hand work?)
Me: Hast Kriya??? (Hand work...still trying to relate to the terminology)
Doctor: Dekhiye, humse sach bataane me koi problem nahi hai, aakhir hum aapke doctor hain (Listen, there is no problem in telling me the truth...after all, I am your doctor)
Me: Accha, wo! haan karta hoon regularly (Oh that! yeah I do that regularly...suddenly realizing that he is referring to masturbation)

Doctor raises his eyebrows at regularly and looks at me.
I change the word to normally and am eagerly waiting for him to ask me the frequency but unfortunately, the question never comes.

The next incident happened when I was coming back to my village after the emotional meeting (at least for the doctor...he did not speak much in the same tone after hearing regularly, despite my subsequent reversion to normally) with the doctor. As I was passing the last of the nukkads (the corner shops that sell tea, cakes, eggs and such), I overheard the conversation taking place between some four or five young boys (most of them in their late teens) sipping their last cup of tea before going back to their household chores of the evening.

Boy 1: kaa ho, tu gaeel rahla na saloonwa me? (so, you had gone to the saloon, hadn't you?)
Boy 2: haan, gaeel rehni par okra paas na rahe kauno design (yeah, I had but he did not have any design)
Boy 3: Frencho cut na rahal ha? (he didn't even have the french cut?)
Boy 4: are na rahela ekni ke sang ei sab, okra khaatir jaaye ke padi Patna (oh, these people don't have these things, for that you will have to go to Patna)
Boy 2: haan, aur ou phatal boot cut bhi na rahela yaar kapadwa ke dukaan me (yes, pal and even the torn boot cut is not there in the clothes' shop)
Boy 1: aajkal ihe sab achcha laagela lekin ei Buxarwa me saala kauno samjhewaala naikhe (nowadays, only these things look good but in this bloody Buxar, no one understands)

So, no one understands, and as the school drop outs and Lalu's baal charwahas (the sons of cow-grazers for whom Lalu had so famously opened the special schools all across Bihar) discuss boot cut jeans and french cut beards, the doctors in the city are still speaking of masturbation in hushed tones. Probably it makes sense, too and is not that much of a contrast for I wonder what the reply of these french cut and boot cut boys would have been, when asked about the frequency of their hast kriyas...all I can say is carry on, doctor! :-)

Posted at 12:13 pm by Nitai

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