Friday, January 29, 2010

When Pictures are worth a Thousand Laughs


(Pictures courtesy an email forward)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oosi Pona Chutney and all that...

Enough has been said about the "outrageous act of plagiarism" by bloggers bigger, older and a zillion times more famous than me. In any case, though Chutney was well within her rights to do whatever she did (which she did quite rightly too, IMHO), I don't want to add more publicity to an already oversized issue.
Nevertheless, I was particularly perturbed by one specific aspect of the plagiarizer's mindset, which, I believe, is more pressing than the actual act of plagiarism per se.

I am shooting my mouth off here (as is wont of me), but I think it's time we Indians admitted that the average creativity of our population ends waaay lower than the supremely creative beings we've been known to produce. Which obviously implies that a large number of us are quite non-creative souls when it concerns intellectual output, but compensate for this via our creative methods of copying/ripping off stuff - be it Lalit Modi's IPL or Ram Laxman's Mere Rang Mein or Harris Jayaraj's June Pona or Kamal's undoubtedly brilliant Anbe Sivam or yet another term paper which we Indian grad students in the US routinely rip from a zillion sources courtesy Google (is it time to Bing yet?). Well, with regard to what I am trying to say here, the last example might be the most easily-relatable, but with a little creative thinking, you'll realize the others too are.

So then, we must admit we do rip stuff to do usual things. When a desi grad student tries to do a term paper, it's just a term paper. It's not like he's going to send it to IEEE or ACM as part of personal work/research (of course, he'd be screwed mightily enough if he did try to do that, but that's a different issue). So what we understand is that the guy that's doing whatever little/much ripping/plagiarizing is doing so just to get done with some basic requirements. It's not like he seeks some elite glory or recognition for the ripped work. This is also probably an indicator of a bigger problem - the flawed system, but that's beside the point, and besides, a flawed system is, by no means, a valid enough justification for whatever small act of plagiarism a grad student (or anyone else) indulges. But this is....ummm...overlook'able.

Which is where what our dear friend did with Chutney's post is especially condemnable. He picked a winner (that's the creative bit) and plagiarized it (the dumb bit). One read of Chutney's post in question is enough for any half-current_state_of_the_urban_Indian-aware person to realize that the piece is brilliant (though I confess that's definitely not my cup of humour, but this is again irrelevant). The girl is right up there, as far as wit and eloquence of language is concerned and her piece is as original as it is entertaining. The dude who ripped it obviously knew if this was made into a short film, it would definitely make some good noise, and no doubt, enhance his prospects. This is where the Epic Fail bit kicks in. You make use of someone else's work for something to ensure your survival or help you achieve something ordinary - no it isn't acceptable, but it isn't at least condemn-worthy and spit-worthy. But you make use of someone else's creative gift, pass it off as your own AND try to make good mileage of it, even the average desi grad student who used a zillion different journals for his term paper will put his thumbs on his nose at you.
Get Original. Respect Creativity.

PSBB Teachers 14 - Mehta Ma'm

[Start of Series]

(Part 13 here)

Geography - '96-'97
In case I didn't mention, 6th std was also the class when our addressing of teachers changed from "Miss" to "Mam". Why I remembered this now is because of the teacher in question - Mehta Ma'm was arguably our first exposure to artistocratic elegance & style. Not to mention her insistence on correct + proper adherence to the Queen's language. All this while being a Geography teacher! Bobbed hair and an almost milky complexion, the lady knew how to carry herself with poise - be it her exquisite range of sarees or her pearl necklaces or her matching sandals, she sure did present an impeccable picture of herself. If I'm right, she did strike a rather intimidating picture of herself at first, but she really got us grooving to her and we (the whole class, literally!) did strike up some amazing conversations ranging from her visit to the Grand Canyon (I still remember all our eyes grow wide in amazement at this and if I'm right, she showed us the photos also) to what not. Not sure, but I think she was related to our batch-mate Rohan Mehta (of Mehta Jewellery). And whenever we heard her speak in Tamil, we were in near splits. Overall, a definite not-to-be-forgotten teacher of TP Road.

(Part 15 here)

Monday, January 18, 2010

PSBB Teachers 13 - Dilip Sir

[Start of Series]

(Part 12 here)

Sports - up to '98 in TP Road, '98 onwards Main School
Dilip Sir was our Sports sir throughout TP Road. A wiry disciplinarian who was quite fun to be with, I remember two specific incidents for no specific reason -
  1. Some shot put practice was going while I was hanging around simply, near the assembly hall when he had instructed us specifically to stop the shot put ball using the leg when I think it was Joel who tried to stop it with his hands and sir gave him such a beating that I wondered if he would've been better off getting injured with the shot put ball itself.
  2. In 7th standard, we had the customary class leader election in which Sanjeev and I were two of the candidates (not sure who else stood), and Sanjeev won by just a few votes (single digit, if I'm right...and I also remember voting for Sanjeev while another close friend Shiva said he voted for me). So Sanjeev was the class leader and we went for our first Sports period when Dilip sir saw Sanjeev and immediately declared he was too short to be a class leader, thereby paving the way for me to be class leader for a second consecutive year. :D
 His son, Samson was a year junior to us, I guess. Dilip sir then joined us in PSBB Main either in 9th or 10th. Dilip Sir replaced Williams Sir, who was our classmate, Joel's dad.

(Part 14 here)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PSBB Teachers 12 - Ambika Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 11 here)

Class Teacher/Moral Science/Geography - '95
Ambika Mam - V'th to VI'th was the second quasi-major transition in a PSBB(TP Road)'ian's life. And aptly, Ambika mam was our class-teacher (apart from handling Moral Science & Geography). If ever there was a teacher who impacted a majority of us students with philosophy, spirituality & morals profoundly up to that point of time in life, for most PSBB'ians around my time, it has to be Ambika Mam. She had a deep, soothing voice and a wonderfully warm personality, at the same time, a stern glare from her could make even the naughtiest of chaps own up to any mistake he did.
Yes, there was also a few students who felt she was too preachy or something on those lines, but it was great to have had a teacher like her, especially at that time of life when we were about to enter our teens.
I must also make a special mention of the fact that my stint at Class-Leadership (ahem!) started thanks to her. For most part up to then, "Class Leader" was synonymous with Harish Anand - one of the most popular PSBB'ians from my batch, a very enterprising bloke and a good friend. I don't know where I'd got the desire to be Class Leader all of a sudden, especially considering he was quite well-made, popular & a good student (must-haves for Class Leaders in PSBB :D) in class while I, while not small by any means, was definitely smaller than him, besides being very quiet & reserved, but I remember confiding in my mom that I wanted to be Class Leader. I was also fresh from two consecutive All-Rounder medals (my only two :P), and this probably played a part in my desire, but I can't be sure. However, I had no idea my mom would actually tell this to Ambika mam, which she did, on the first Cycle Test report card day. And the ever-encouraging Ambika Mam made me Class Leader soon thereafter. And this leadership experience (whatever little it was) rubbed off on me all the way up to college, so I think extra-gratitude to Ambika mam for making a shy, bespectacled, chubby, then-chamathu, Powder-Subramani (I'm guessing this phrase is going to stick, thanks to Chutney :D) like me Class Leader (yes yes, including the coveted badge!) of VI 'A'. :-)
I think she handled Moral Science also for us, for a few years after that. A fair call it would be, I hope, if I said she was one of the most universally liked teachers in TP Road.
Since I was also this extra-chamathu guy who could bear to see no "wrong things" happening [:D], I remember telling her secretly about one specific boy-girl incident in 6th standard along with another friend. This pottu-koduthufying business didn't end then...there was another incident in 9th std in Main school when I pottu-koduthufied about another girl's disrespectful words about a sir to her. No surprises then that I was no favourite among my classmates. :D
Through this orkut community, I heard she moved to Lady Andal and then to Bangalore. Like the community description says, she is one teacher whom most students will most likely never forget all their lives. :-)

(Part 13 here)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My name is NOT Khan

Every new year's eve in Chicago, city transport is free from 8 PM till 6 AM next day. Having lived most of my life in the US as the archetypal desi grad student, I immediately made plans to make best use of the free rides (technically they are 1 cent per ride, however, most of the drivers waive off that also). I'd been out of agarbathis for a few days, besides having run out of matches as well. Daily velakethifying (lighting the lamp) is one of the chamathu things I manage to do everyday, and since I'd run out of agarbathis as well as matches, just lighting the vilakku (using used matches with fire from the stove) felt so inadequate & incomplete. And the closest place to get these 2 items navigable by public transport in Chicago is the now-infamous Devon St (Headley's accomplice Rana's hideout). Besides, I also had a few personal materialistic interests - namely food, to get from there. The catch was that most shops/restaurants in Devon close by about 9-9:30 and since it takes about 1-1.5 hrs to reach there, I was going to cut it close.

In any case, I was planning to go to Navy Pier for the midnight fireworks, so I took the chance. Rather surprisingly (for me), I left home sharp at 7:58 to head for the train station (in retrospect, I could've left at about 7:50), and after making the necessary switches from bus->train->bus, I reached Devon by about 9:07 PM, which is mighty quick. Alighting from the bus, I immediately dashed to dear ol' Patel Bros, only to find it almost shut and one Amrish Puri-like thatha grumpily guarding the shut door from inside, just to allow the last few customers already inside to get out. I am not a guy who generally identifies a lost cause when he sees one, and since I have firm faith in God [:D], I thought I'd make a push for it, since it was primarily agarbathis I was buying - so I begged the old fellow to get me in, JUST to buy the agarbathis. While I was haggling with him, another local desi, in typical desi fashion, nonchalantly slipped past directly to get some snacks (hmph!). The thatha saw the other guy go and rather reluctantly allowed me too inside. Of course, agarbathis were the main reason for me, but I wasn't going to let slip this opportunity to quickly grab some namkeens too (memories of classic SRK in DDLJ). When I was busily scanning the agarbathi-stack to get the cheapest ones (grad-student-mentality), I was losing precious time. And by the time I'd chosen two decent-enough packets and was able to head to the main snacks-area, the old man bellows from behind asking me to check out, failing which he would chuck me out. Reluctantly, I dragged myself to the billing counter and had to make do just with the agarbathis.

But wait, there's also the match box right? And I didn't tell you about my original plans for, ahem, "procuring" it. Well basically, all the match boxes I've used so far were originally bought in India. Somehow, once, I dropped into this vege-restaurant on Devon St called Uru-Swathi, which had a few ultra-small match-boxes (obviously meant for smokers) and I managed to swipe them once. Since it was emergency now, and I knew nowhere else where I could get them match-boxes, I included Uru-Swati as my other major stop on that (holy) smokey expedition. Here also, you must appreciate my Computer-Science-induced orey-kallula-rendu-maanga mentality. Though match boxes were the motivation for me to visit Uru Swathi, I wasn't going to let go of a good opportunity to treat myself (New Year's Eve or otherwise) to some Paneer rolls I'd been eyeing for a long time now. The Patel Bros-partial-disappointment notwithstanding, I was determined to make Uru Swathi count. Having checked the outside signboard to ensure it was "OPEN", I marched in righteously and placed my bag on the table and was almost seating myself when the head waiter/owner, a frail Gujju gentleman (another Amrish Puri, a kinder one at that) frantically waved me out. With a Vadivelu-esque "Innum evlo peru da adippeenga?" shrug, I prepared to exit when I remembered my primary mission - the Vathikuchis. So, rather decently, I asked the old man permission to piss and rather nonchalantly, walked up to the billing counter (the kakkoozi was just past the billing counter) which was, rather thankfully for me, quite crowded. While I was strategising how to get the match boxes, I overheard a woman asking her husband to taste some laddu (I noticed later it was made of yellu, sesame I think). By Lord Almighty's Grace, it so happened that the match-boxes were right next to the vessel containing the laddus to be sampled. Mustering all my poise, I pretended to take (only) the laddu and parallelly swiped the only two remaining match boxes there. Apparently, the Lord was happy with my devotion that it so happened that the laddu I tried to reach for was stuck to another one. Since I am someone who hates to separate people, for the sake of the two laddus, I took them as one (Understandably, I don't appreciate the Iyer-Iyengar divide as well...Hari'yum Sivan'um Onnu....Ariyaadhavan Vaaila Mannu...Arinjavan Vaaila Laddoo :D). Paah, and what a heavenly taste those Laddus had! Probably Prasadam disguised or just my hunger, but I never expected I would relish Sesame laddus so much!

And thus, (just about) successfully, ended my DDLJ'esque SRK-role-play (no surprises for guessing that there was absolutely no trace of any Kajol) with the realization - My name is NOT Khan.

Mokkai DB

(A collection of my mokkais from Twitter with most recent ones on top)
  • Q. If a bad-looking girl was a car, what would her legs be called?
    A. Attire
  • Q. Why did the C'tore Zamindar's son ask his asst to call him only Ayya in Delhi?
    A. Everytime his asst called him Chinna Jameen, ppl looked down
  • Q. Why did the Golti motorbike hesitate to talk to unknown older cars?
    A. He felt foolish saying Car'gaaru.
  • Q. Why do the French remember Napoleon everytime someone pisses in his pants?
    A. He was the most famous victim of Waterloo.
  • Isn't it ironic that we say it's Sunny when the Sun is shining brightly while Sani is actually Saturn?
  • Which Indian-American is worthy of the Padma Bhushan directly (skipping the one prior)?
    Padmashree Warrior.
  • Q. What did Raghuvaran say when folks asked him about the iPad?
    A. iKnow.
  • On the controversy of Sant Singh Chatwal getting a Padma award, noted word-player Cho characteristically said - "That's Bad ma."
  • Q. Why is it sweet to hear/read the entire Ramayana?
    A. Because it is SamPoorna Ramayanam.
  • Q. What did the turtle from the ocean tell the frog who refused to come out?
    A. All izz not well.
  • Q. What does a mathematician tell once he's proven a set is empty?
    A. All izz Null
  • Q. What is the diff. b/w the 2008 & 2009 credit crises?
    A. One was started by Wall St, the other was started by Chetan Bhagat.

  •  Why is that we always go Ga-Ga over a piece of great music, but not Sa-Sa or Ri-Ri?
  • Why are Hindi-speaking Aeroplane-travellers generally in a holiday mood?
    Because they are in a Hawaii Jahaaz. :)
  • Gun'a sutta bullet varum...aana Bullet'a sutta Police varum.
  • How to propose to a girl #430: For others, "Home is where the heart is", for me "Your heart is where my home is"
  • What is the diff bet Spielberg & Vijay - Spielberg used many Avatars in one movie, Vijay uses the same Avatar in many movies. 
  • If we can have guys named Deve Gowda, why can't we have girls named Reethi Gowla?
  • Q. Why did the rice cooker fail?
    A. Because it had too much prestige and couldn't handle the resulting pressure.
  • Meanwhile, Thenisai Thendral Deva expressed disappointment that Telengana overshadowed his latest Tamil gaana song.
  • Not to miss out on the fun, SSS Ravishankar said-"Why are ppl fighting for new states? All they need is a peaceful state of mind."
  • Astute political observer Cho astutely observed - "The youth of today are so fast that fasting is too slow a satyagraha for them."
  • Q. What would a Tamil dubbing of Slumdog Millionaire shot in the Rann of Kutch be called?
    A. Kutcheri
  • Rendu kaal'na adhu arai...
    Arai kaal'na adhu thodai.
  • Q.Why is a slap called "Arai"?
    A. A slap is only with 1 hand. Man has 2 hands. 1/2 = Half. Half in Tamil is Arai.
  • What is the Congressi's favourite mind-game?
    A. Pseudoku
  • What would Steve Jobs name a video game with Rahul Gandhi as the main character - iCon.
  • Q. Which appalam is male? (Hint: It's also made by a male, a young one at that) -
    A. Ambi Ka Appalam.
  • Vaithula paala vaakkalaam, aana vaithula dosai'ya vaakka mudiyuma?
  • Why do elders advise us against the pursuit of material wealth? - Because it is Assettuthanam. 
  • If Anjali Tendulkar had a brother and he was a Tamilian, what would he be called? - Deiva-machaan
  • Monday annikku mokkai podalaam, aana mokkai annikku mandaya poda mudiyuma?
  • Q. Kadavul yen Eve'a pazham saaptadhukku punish panninnaar?
    A. Yaenna Eve romba Adam pudichu pazhathai vaangi thinnaal.
  • Q. What would President Pratibhasingh Patil be if she was a musical instrument?
    A. Her initials.
  • Q. What happens to Logic when it is used by journos like Sagarika & Barkha?
    A. It becomes Tragic.
  • Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas'ku enna dhan PERIYA per irundhalum "Superstar" maadhiri "periya" per irukka?
  • Rajinikanth enna dhan Sivaji'la Boss'a irundhalum avaraala Vaas maadhiri bowling poda mudiyadhu.
  • Why do they call it Auto-Pilot when it's a plane that's flying? Appo auto enna thanaava odradhu?
  • A rumour can become a fact, but a fact can never become a rumour.
  • If blogging is like vaazha-elai-saappadu, twitter is like norukku-theeni.
  • Why do we gen. say "Besh, Idli apdiye malliga maadhri irukku," but never "Aaha, malliga poo enge vaangine? Apdiye Idli pola irukku?" :-?
  • Marriage between homosexuals should be legalized, but given a different name. Say, something like "Homage".
  • How can anyone "bite the dust"? You can either lick dust or swallow it. But, bite? (Unless, of course you have an eatable called "the Dust").
  • Tharailayum mannu irundhadhu. Enakkum meesai irundhudhu. Still meesaila mannu ottalai. Yen? Yenna naan keezhe vizhave illai.
  • Meesai irundhum naan keezha vizhundhappo en meesaila mannu ottalai. Yen? Yenna vizhundha edathla manne illai.
  • Nethi saayangaalam naan keezha vizhundhum en meesaila mannu ottalai. Yen? Yenna mundhanethikku naan meesaiya shave pannitten.
  • Vara vara makkalukku "Lol" romba jaasthiya aagi pochu.
  • You know Telugus are Serious abt Software Engg when even a Mech Engr woos his gal using a song on data structures
  • Was "That's it" somehow derived from/inspired by "tat sat"?
  • Only when we are on our deathbed and think abt the problems we had at 1/4th our age is it proper 2 b called Quarter-life Crisis.
  • Q. What is a Guy who tweets joblessly called?
    A. Twettipayal.
  • Q. What is the ultimate form of pig-headedness?
    A. Spreading swine flu without having it.
  • Manushan Gaanda Irundha Mirugam aaga mudiyum, aana Gaanda Mirugam enna pannaalum Manushan aaga mudiyadhu.
  • Gaanda mirugam eppovume Gaanda irukkuma?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

PSBB Teachers 11 - Williams Sir & Vasanth Peter Sir

[Start of Series]

(Part 10 here)

Western Music - the 1990's
Williams Sir - A short, slightly stout tall, balding man with a big paunch and a bigger command of the grand piano in the ground floor room opposite to the Pillaiyaar Koil in TP Road, we really used to dread this man, however enjoying the Western Music classes.

Vasanth Peter Sir - He was Williams Sir's son and understandably, the heir to the Western Music teaching position. He was a somewhat stylish "dude" who could be friendly and strict likewise, depending on how he wanted to be and how we were. I also remember his small finger on one of his hands which had a carefully nurtured long nail. Among other things that I remember was, ahem, one Vaishnavi miss who used to spend considerable time whenever we had Western Music classes. ;-)

Update: My classmate, Sanjeev Vaidyanathan adds that Williams Sir wasn't short or stout, hence the correction. Also, he recollects that Vasanth Sir constantly kept threatening to leave us all and go to Dubai, which, now that he says, I vaguely recollect. Thanks Sanjeev.

(Part 12 here)