Saturday, March 31, 2007

Unexplained hiatus

It didn't seem that long a time, but it's already over 10 days since I wrote a post. I really don't have any excuses for this. Anybody miss me yet?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Games I played

Mario, Wolf, Doom, Need for Speed...What was the first computer game you ever played? When did you first lose time consciousness to a programme?

When I was about 14, my dad's bank got computerised. Which meant that the top management send them early versions of the home computer - 286s and 386s - and my dad and a few of his colleagues were packed off to Chennai from Nagercoil to study COBOL. When dad came back, naturally he was excited. So he decided that his son - that's me- should also be well-versed in computers. So he send me off to study BASIC in a fairly good institute. It was a three storeyed building I remember getting lost in. I did it over the summer between my eighth and ninth standards.

Those guys had four games: World Space Commanders, Chess, and two games I don't remember the name of, but let me describe them to you. In one of the games, you get a bat which was flat 2cm long thing and you had to keep hitting it on the sides of the screen. After you play a while, two balls appear in the screen and you will have to hit them. In the other one, the computer screen was a grassy surface through which you send this cylindrical eating tiny monster that eats points as it is chased by the system's monsters. All the four games ran on MS-DOS. Nagercoil had not heard of Windows yet. I am not sure if Windows 3.1 was released by that time.

I don't remember a darn thing about BASIC anymore. But I have not forgotten anything about the games. Even today, I kinda know what keys I pressed to do what, etc.

The next games were played when I went to learn windows and word at Brilliant's Tutorials. Guys preparing for competitive exams must remember this institute as a drab place. I had fun there.

Later, at the insistence of my brother, dad finally bought a run-down, assembled, second hand PC. I don't remember what processor ran on it. But it wasn't very fast. And Nagercoil in the mid-90s still had not heard of the Internet. By brother and I used to play Wolf on it. But the game that really we obsessed over was Doom. You may have played it. I have often wondered if that game made kids more evil than they were.

Today gaming has come a long way from those early days. A couple of days ago, I was reading the two links given below. Thought I will write about what games I have played.

BTW, what games do u play?

Here's a link to a Guardian blog on PS3.

Read about LittleBigPlanet here

President Kalam with family

President of India A.P.J Abdul Kalam with members of my family (from left to right) Mythili Kannan, Kamala Ram, Kannan, Mukundan, Sarangan (the two standing kids), Thangu Ram, and the baby Manu.

It is the 75th birth anniversary of my grandfather and writer Sundara Ramaswamy. It was celebrated along with 100th anniversary of writer Puthumaipithan and 125th anniversary of Bharathiyar. The event was held in December in Coimbatore. The picture was taken on the sidelines of the event. My uncle Kannan was one of the main organisers of the event.

Playing paperback

I rarely play tag. But this is simply too juicy to pass. The rules of this particular game are here. Shainu is also playing.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) Read, saw it.
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Saw it, tried reading it.
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) Read, watched
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) Saw
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) Read, Saw again and again
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien) Read, Saw again and again
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers Read, Saw again and again
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) ??
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) ??
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) ??
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) Read and saw
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) Read
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Read
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) ??
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) Saw
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Read and saw
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald) ??
18. The Stand (Stephen King)??
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Read, saw again and again
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Want to
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien) Want to
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) Read
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) Want to
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) Want to
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)Read
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) Want to
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)Want to
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) Saw
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck) Read
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom) ??
31. Dune (Frank Herbert) Reading
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)Saw
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) Read
34. 1984 (Orwell) Tried
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) ??
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) Read
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) ??
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb) ??
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) ??
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) No
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel) ??
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) Want to
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella) ??
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom) ??
45. Bible (...) Read
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) Want to
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) Read
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) Want to
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) Read, want to see
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) ??
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) ??
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) Want to
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) ??
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) Read, saw
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) Want to
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) ??
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling) Read, saw
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) Want to
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) Want to
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) ??
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) Reading
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) Read again again
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy) Tried
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) Saw
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis) ??
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) Want to
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)Want to
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) Read, want to see
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) Read
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) Read
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) Saw
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)Want to
73. Shogun (James Clavell) ??
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) Saw, want to read
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) ??
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay) ??
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)??
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) ??
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) ??
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)??
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) ??
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) Read
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) Want to read, see
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) ??
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams) ??
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)Want to
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) ??
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago) Want to
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) Read
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje) ??
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) Want to
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck) Read
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)Want to
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) Read, saw
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) ??
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)??
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford) Tried, Yukk
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) ??
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) Want to

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Now, my blog has a comments widget. It will show the last five comments readers leave on the blog. Look in the sidebar - pretty neat, na? I am feeling very clever.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Perks at Google

Pic: NYT

In the picture, are Googlers travelling to work on a shuttle service the company is organising for them. Read more here. Any comparisons to Sutherland should be immediately done away with. Do you think journalists like me would ever be pampered like this?

Friday, March 09, 2007


I hate it. I don't hate it. Well, I can't seem to make up my mind. But I hate people who often fly to the US. I hate it when they walk into The Taj. I hate it when they are born into it. I hate it when they have leisure. I hate to see rich couples hold hands in posh restaurants. I wonder if I will continue to hate them when I have some money.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Two film festivals

There used to be film societies in Chennai. People used to gather and watch movies. They chatted about them, shared their views and fought over stuff they didn't agree. Now all that is gone. The Digital Video Disc pretty much killed the communal watching of films. Now, films that were once rare are no longer so. From Chabrol to Kurosawa, all movies are available in Chennai in DVD/VCD stores. Film festivals too have been common and are usually trashy or conventional.

But I still love film festivals. I haven't been to any major ones. Most of what I learned about films came off the Net and from watching on the DVD.

Now for people like me, there are two film festivals happening in Chennai.

The first is held by the Department of Communication at the Madras Christian College. It's called 24fps. This is standard fare and films are expected to be the "festival kind". Some of the hot shots of the film critic circuit would be there. So will be the students. Go here to register. The choices of films are expected to be conventional. At least that is what it sounds like. There is no complete list out yet on the Net, but my friend who spoke over the phone about this named a few Iranian films. I forget their names.
Date: March 14-17
Venue: M.M. Auditorium, Kodambakkam.

The second festival is more interesting. Sagaro was the one who told me about it. We are working on a list of films that will provoke the audience enough that they come back for more next year. This festival will take place on a rooftop in the city. We haven't got one yet, but we will. Date: Late March or April. This festival is called rtff. You can pitch in with anything in this festival: right from the choice of movies (use the wiki) to providing a rooftop. You have to bring your own everything: from the atmosphere your presence would create to the kind of food and snacks we eat.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Can you light petrol with a cigarette?

How many times have we seen petrol lit with a cigarette in the movies. It begins likes this: there is a running car which is leaking petrol. The hero, who has already ensured the leak, lights up a cigarette and waits with screwed up eyes till the car has almost gone out of the frame. Then with a stylish flick of his hand, he drops the cigarette to the ground. And then you get this close up: Of a cigarette turning in slow motion and falling on the black tarred road. It lights up a long line of fire leading up to the car, which is usually a white Ambassador in Indian movies, and bham: the whole thing goes up on fire. Usually the sound effects for the entire sequence is carefully composed to give us an impression of reality.

But scientists have now proved that this is impossible. Go here.

I can remember this happening in the Malayalam movie starring Mohan Lal, Vandanam, and the Mel Gibson-starrer Payback. How many more can you think of?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Again and again

Here is a link that is doing the rounds in the blogosphere. Discuss in the comments section

Friday, March 02, 2007

Links again

I fervently wish I was a quick writer. But no, words don't come to me as easy as they did to Shakeaspeare. So I find myself linking to other stuff that I found interesting on the Net. My outclick meter shows that only a few readers ever click on these links. If you found any of these links good, please leave a comment on my blog.
Here you go then,
Just have a look at the sidebar of this blog. It's the best collection of official websites of writers I have seen on the net.
My grandpa now has an official website. He was a Tamil writer mind you, but has a very long English article about himself on the site. I love that article. Hope you find it good to read too.
The Guardian is home to some of the best blogs in mainstream media. Have a look here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Back in office

Am back in office after two and a half months. Regular readers of this blog would know I was at a yoga camp in Bangalore. I also got to spend time in my hometown of Nagercoil. Now, I am itching to go and chop chop chop some copies.

You may have seen this huge tome called A Thousand Days in book shops. If you are the voraciously reading kind, you may have even read the Pulitzer award winning work. The author of that book on the JFK administration, Arthur Schlesinger, died in Manhattan last night. I read his obit in NYT today. There are geniuses that we come to know only after their death. Historian Schlesinger is one such. Do read the obit. I am sure you will find him fascinating too.

A close friend has started linkr. The site is in Tamil. If you know Tamil, please check out his blog.

Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, has written this very long critique of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. I am just putting this on the blog to remind myself to read it.
Link via: Dabbler