Friday, November 14, 2008

Why ? Why ? Why ?

This was the question that came into my mind when I finished reading 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga this week after many in-between pauses. Why did this rather average book get the Man Booker prize ? A point worth commendable about his writing could be his 'observation' on the life around him and how it gets narrated through the voice of Balram. Note the single quote. This is necessary to indicate the narration which the author assumes to be from an Indian background; while in fact most of the time his 'observation' would not make believe an average Indian.

Additionally, the writing is rather too plain and is really a very very light read. When you think about the numerous novels with good English, you wonder what is special about this writing. If you take the other Booker's like The God Of Small Things, Life Of Pi or for that matter the Inheritance of Loss, the language is in a different class of its own, so is the narration. I would not dare to compare this book with 'Midnights Children' - centuries ahead.

Am no literary critic and perhaps someone could clear up my why's. But then, my pea brain never understood why R.K Narayan never received a Booker or a Pulitzer or a Nobel.

Finally what matter here now is the moolah and the sales which comes with the award. Good for Adiga.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bangalore-Kochi-Bangalore on Enfield Bullet

With wife away at her hometown and an upcoming four day weekend, could not resist the temptation to ride down to my hometown-Kochi from Bangalore on my newly acquired second hand (fourth actually) Enfield bullet. A few words about the machine - 1999 make, single cylinder, 350cc,18bhp, cast iron engine, classic thud thud :). Read more about this bullet version here.

Got it serviced a day before the journey from Teknik Motors on CMH Road run by Anand. The mechanics there does appear to know their job well, though the service centre itself appear a bit disorganised. It was the best thud thud ever after the service. Anand did give me a few tips for the upcoming 1100km (550kms oneway) trip including varying the throttle frequently, 10-15min stops after a 100kms and the very much required confidence to get me going! For that matter, I could not think of a better way to build confidence with the bike rather than get going.

May 01, 2008 - 04:00AM
Packed the shoulder bag light with a couple of tee-shirts and two bottles of water. Made sure that the shoulder straps of bag was extended to its limit such that it would 'sit' just behind me. The bike-start routine went perfectly well and here I was thumping down the Hosur road. The engine seemed to get more smoother once it covered a few kilometers and heated up. Down the road, the engine seemed to thud perfect when the speed was maintained between 55kph-65kph. At this speed everything appeared to be just in sync - the bike, the road and the rider.

It is interesting to note that the 50kph average speed was maintained throughout the entire trip through Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Erode - Palghat - Thrissur - Angamaly - Kochi route, with 10min breaks after each 100kms. Enjoyed the gazes on the bike while on road and the intrigued bike queries from the locals during the breaks. It definitely is easy to make friends while on a bull. The hotel waiter at Salem wanted me to take a few hours of rest in the a/c room with a cool drink since this road trip did not make sense to him.

Loneliness took over when travelling across the Coimbatore bypass. Perhaps it was the boring dry landscape and the many cars that overtook you. But then, the idea behind bullet is the systematic thump, speed and patience. It is a different matter that most of the time you manage to overtake these cars down a few kilometers when they slow down behind a convoy of trucks.

Around 400kms, the end of my spine started to pain unless I kept adjusting my seating position. Thankfully, the numbness of my bottom appeared to subside at each break. The breaks are crucials not just for cooling down the bike, but also to make sure you gulp half a bottle of water to prevent dehydration. Another advice for prospective riders is to use a hand-glove unless you want to get the darkest tan (read black) ever.

I was home at Kochi for the evening tea and had completed 550kms in 12hrs. Not bad considering the innumerous breaks. To think about it, my best timing in my car was 9hrs without a single break and my usual Bangalore-Kochi car trip takes 11 to 12hrs with two or three breaks.

The return journey on May 04 was more easier since I started early from Kochi and missed the infamous Kerala traffic . The rattling sound from the back of the bike did worry me; before I figured out the loose bolt which held the chain cover. Tightened it at Avinashi and it was beautiful thud thud time again. Made it in 11.5hrs back to Bangalore. I did not feel the tiredness this time, but felt more confident with the bull.

The consistent and reliable performance of the bike through the 1100kms needs to be noted.
Moves you. Literally.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Court's Take

Few of the court observations from today's 'The Hindu' newspaper.

Only Centre can end Kannur violence, says High Court

While requesting New Delhi to act at Kannur, the court said, “all-party peace missions are nothing but a hoax to hoodwink the fickle-minded public.” and “All political parties there seem to freely indulge in the cult of violence.” True indeed. The court appears to have the same mindset of the general public.

The fellows engaging in these activities in Kannur appear to be of the same kind, no matter what the color of his flag - zero principles, no clues to why this is happening other than that they could not resolve the allegations verbally. This leaves the public as idiots and the sufferers.

"Do not treat anonymous letters as PIL" says Supreme Court

A matter which could have got resolved at the High court itself I believe. Supreme court had to confirm that anonymous letter cannot trigger investigations. The case in concern being the anonymous PIL filed at High court against Divine-Retreat-Centre, Thrissur. The High Court judge appears to have ordered independent investigations based on this anonymous letter. Why? Perhaps the Judge knew the anonymous ...

High Court directs DGP to initiate action against DSP, SI

If you thought that the registered police case getting closed this quick (in a matter of hours!) was the efficiency of the police department, you got it wrong. It appeared to be a case of police in hands with the culprits, leading to High court wanting actions against them.

Plea to decommission Periyar dam rejected

Court says - “all your concerns will be taken care of in the suit” .

Classic case of one case overriding another case. The 100yr old dam is in more than one news. On one side we have an NGO asking to decommission the dam since its too old and the related dangers it pose. On the other side, we have TamilNadu filing a case against violation of some water conservation Act and requesting that the dam operations be stopped temporarily. Court believes that the two cases can be clubbed together to reach a final verdict. Hmm.


Anyways, the words from the courts does appear to make sense most of the time in this odd democracy. With a more or less functional Judiciary, guess we still have hope.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Predicting the future - Dilbert

“The Dilbert Principle: People are idiots.”

Just finished reading Scott Adams - Dilbert - 'Predicting the future', wherein he predicts the future about varied things using humorous logic. The context is mostly set in Dilbert's office space and talks how we would finally harness the stupidity around us. Does make your mind tingle even though its a light read. This smart fellow is ranked 21 in the global ranking of business thinkers.

The last chapter of this book is totally different in that he keeps humor aside for a moment and questions the various explanations of stuff around us and introduces to an interesting concept called affirmations. I had to re-read this chapter thrice to get the gist of these things ; quite thought provoking.

Double Slit Experiment - Basically showed the interference of light waves when passed through a sheet with two slits. Initially demonstrated in the 19th century, Scotts version talks about the interference getting affected when we start to record things. Wish I could see this in action/video.

Affirmations - This one is interesting. This talks about how you could achieve nearly anything if you write down your need 15 times on a piece of paper everyday. It does not matter if you believe in it. But as per Scott, it would finally just work out! Weird. You might want to check out the chapter on affirmations in his book "God's Debris"

I think he is making an Induhvidual out of me!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Weather man

Its getting hotter by the day, but what got my attention was the weather forecast for Bangalore City in 'The Hindu' newspaper today (Page 3). It went "A fresh cool morning. A bright sunny day...." for today and "A charming morning. A dry sunny day. The clear night is likely to be comfortable." for tomorrow.

I dont know why, but I like this guy. He sounded just out of England and different.

Tom - 'Morning old fruit. What a charming morning.
Charles - 'Morning young Tom. It indeed is sweet. A perfect day for scroll by the woods.
Nitin - Easy for you blokes; I have to catch the Infy bus at 7!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Revisiting Malayalam

For all Keralites ('mallus') lost in the routines of life in a different culture, my best advise is to keep in touch with the malayalam'ness ('malayalitham') by reading the numerous malayalam books and short stories. Not knowing where to buy good malayalam literature out of Bangalore, it was a pleasure to see the book seller on train. I presume this guy works for DC/Current books directly as he did not look like the normal vendors you see on the Indian trains.

For better or worse, I studied Malayalam only until my 4th standard and thereafter it was just Hindi, Sanskrit and English as languages while at the Naval Public School. Of the three books I bought, the stories by M.T Vasudevan took me over completely. The description of emotions and the narrative writing of the day to day life was just at its best. There were more than one instance wherein I re-read the stories just out of sheer joy in reading them. These guys rock.

Effectively, this means I have more Malayalam writings to catch up; the ones I left behind since my school days. Here are the sites I now frequent :

Any good suggestions on books and writers are seriously welcome.