Sunday, September 16, 2007

TECHNO JINXED

Okay, this has got too far. How come it's always ME, yes, ME, who manages to pick up the one DEFECTIVE product? Huh? Why me?

* realises such sweeping statements may invite lawsuits *
* Uhm, let me rephrase that first line *

Why does every technological gadget that I purchase seem to conk? Why is it only me? Hell, there are 113 other PGP-1 students here, why am I the chosen one? >:(

Okay, this post, as you may have surmised, is just to vent out my frustration which has been held back for too long.

Let me start you off with my poor, poor history with MP3 players. Yeah, most people who have the moolah just went off and bought the iPod (two years back, they were still 16k+, a figure that was astronomical to us poor engineering college souls). What did the rest of us do? Why, buy cheaper versions of course. And all the while, we indulged in pacifying ourselves by trashing the iPod (some psychological bullshit, this!) telling ourselves the cheaper version makes more sense, while at the back of our minds, we knew we'd give a limb for a 'Pod. Whatever.

So with this endeavour to go 'digital', I buy my first player in the middle of my third year. A modest 128 MB player for 2000 bucks (yes, yes, laugh all you want) by a brand that is not exactly likely to be seen in Fortune 500 for a while - Miyota.

So what happened, you ask? Basically, Maslowian tendencies crept in, and the need for 'more' music just happened. So I 'gifted' this player to my brother (not before disaster number one, which was slipping from a bus and crashing my player into a wall and breaking the plastic enclosure, happened) and set out to buy a 512 MB player. And then, what happens?

Anyone who's bought fake MP3 players would very well be acquainted with the 'virtual memory' syndrome. In a nutshell, it means, if it shows X amount of space, the actual space will be only X/2. So my 512 MB gave me... Yes, 256 (good work, Einstein!). And of course, I discovered this a happy week after my purchase, so the gentleman cooly refused to take it back.

Fast forward to a software engineer's life in Chennai. With 15k a month for doing virtually nothing, I don't know WHAT on earth prompted me to go in for a iPod fake, which also had X/2 memory (I refuse to elaborate on details, as my player became a standing joke in our place after this!).

Finally, saved up a little, and seeing the iPod was still out of reach, decided that a Creative 8 GB player for 8k was a decent option. And it was. Till... The crash. And oh, the trouble I had to go to get it replaced. Eventually, it was replaced with a 6 GB version (and now, I'm waiting for the next crash). Thankfully, it exists to this date, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Now, memory sticks. Like all Indians, the thought of paying a premium for 'memory' was unthinkable. I mean, you buy a camera for 8k... Who would ever wanna shell out 4k more for 'original' memory, when cheaper versions are available? Huh?! Well, my history goes as follows, and the tallying up of the costs is quite painful.

1. 16 MB: Free with cam (whee!) <- Maslow takes over
2. 128 MB: 2000 bucks. See a trend here? <- This one crashes after 6 months.
3. 256 MB: 2000 bucks. If only, I curse myself, I'd waited for a while. This one lasts for over a year, giving me good value for money. And then it also decides to suicide ('Format Error' being the category's option of choice)
4. 1 GB for 700 bucks: Yes, you heard that right. Viva Richie's street.

And yes, the stick's been working for about 6 months now.

What next? Aaaah... Notebook computers * evil grin that shadows a lifetime of pain *

My notebook adaptor apparently conked. Being under warranty, I call up customer care, but they tell me the bloody international warranty is available only for Bangalore and Delhi. Not wanting to spend that much, I give my adaptor to a local dealer (hence nullifying the warranty) thinking it would be just a minor defect. As it turns out, it was pretty major, and I was lost again >:(

I had to end up buying a fake adaptor, which lost it's bloody end pin (!!) after three months... And I searched in vain to get another pin (ranging from electronic spare part stores to old customers of the fake adaptor...). Finally, Dad had enough and told me to just go and buy an original Acer adaptor (Dad is a great believer in long-term investments. Unfortunately, he didn't account for my jinxedness with tech products).

All is well for another 6 months, the course of which I shifted to Chennai. And then what happens? My screen starts developing certain coloured lines (the beginning of the end, you can feel it coming). My roommate gives my notebook a max of 6 months. The optimist that I am, assured myself it would last another 2 years (!). 2 months into MICA, and the graphics card acts more moodily than Shahid Afridi's form, and the screen has developed enough lines to give a zebra an inferiority complex.

And finally, the final nail in the proverbial coffin, the computer just refused to boot up any longer. An estimated 30k for repairs.

So what do I do? New laptop. Thrilled for 3 days, because I got an amazing deal at a kick-ass price. What happens after 3 days? Yes, screen refuses to work. Off to the service center, where they find the RAM had to be replaced (they took all of days to do that. Don't ask why. Some things are best left unquestioned).

Funny enough, the one gadget that gives everyone else nightmares, mobile phones, haven't caused that much of trouble for me. Yeah, my old 3310 had a couple of screen repairs, but the subsequent 1100, 6021 and E50 have performed fine, except for one repair the latter needed. Strange. I hope this is not a lull before a storm.

The positives? I've learnt so much about technology and researching for fakes and all in the process. (D---uh!) And yes, my 4-year old headphones still work like a dream. My faithful Sonys, which I bought for a paltry 900, still give me a better bass response than some of the Sennheiser models I checked out, and I am not kidding on this front. Infact, the only model which seemed to be better than my 'phones seemed to be Bose's QC3, but at 16k, they are another level.

Hence you have it. My sob story. Feels good, just letting all that out!
Posting this one quickly as I don't know when my comp will conk off next.
Cheerio! :D

Thursday, August 23, 2007

WHAT AN MBA TAUGHT ME - PART ONE

I always hear from alumni of BSchools how the education there 'changed their lives' and all that. Well, I found it kind of incredulous to believe... Because all they taught us in management school was, hell, common sense.

I mean, after two classes of marketing, I could identify the 'target audience' who uses Lakme products. Hell, I don't need a class in marketing to tell me that - I knew that when I was in the 8th grade, probably I called it a less-flashy 'people who use Lakme'. Now don't tell me I'm shelling out two years and 9 lakhs to learn fancy words. Or am I?

I'm not entirely sceptical about the whole system - I know there will be some change, even if all they're teaching is common sense glittered with nice 9-letter long words.

So what I want to do here is to attempt to track my own real-life progress... I mean, how I feel at certain points in my MBA education that I have changed or I feel that the stuff thrown at us in class has changed me... I'll attempt to do this twice in my first year and twice in my second... And see how I have changed overall... Now that may or may not make interesting reading, but hell, it's an interesting exercise and gives me something to blog about.

I slowly realised it's a process of building up, and structuring your thoughts in a particular line of thinking. Yeah, everyday, you learn pretty basic stuff, but somehow it all seems to add up, and the difference is not hugely palpable, but one can feel it happen.
It may be something as mundane as making better PowerPoint pressos, or using management jargon in the place of English... But then, these are small things. Bigger things, I'd like to believe, will accrue in time. I may be defensive of the fact that I paid quite a bit to be here, but hey, optimism never killed anyone. Well, almost.

SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE PFAFF

We've also learnt that pfaffing (gassing, hawa maaring, call it what you like...) is an inescapable part of MBA life. Hell, how do you make a simple one-line statement sound like the greatest discovery since sliced bread and ribbed condoms? Pfaff, damnit! Devote a whole three slides to it, and suddenly, it becomes 'hot'! Perspective? Ah!

But seriously, we've learnt useful pfaff and useless pfaff. We know when to pfaff and when not to. We know how to separate the wheat from the pfaff ;)

But is it easy to pfaff? Gassing, as it was called back in Engineering days (ah!) was an art I picked up from my mentors and developed. It came to the point where I was able to write two whole pages in my university exam papers on topics that I never had heard of. Of course, this skill is perfected by many an artist. And it is invaluable.

However, some people overdo it - especially in PPTs where the onus should be on keeping it short and simple. Also, this epidemic of pfaffing helps us to appreciate a good point (if and) when it comes through!

DESPERADO...

And now comes the whole concept of DCP. I don't need to expand that. Yeah, we're usually a happy peaceful lot, gracious enough to let our fellow classmates do the talking if they have a pertinent point. But then, introduce the concept of points for each and every thing you say and you have pandemonium! And funilly, it's not a case of one-upmanship as one might percieve, but rather a case of people trying to get any arbit thought that forumlates between those grey cells, out of their oesophagii. Oh, well.

Does this have a lesson in the corporate world? Are things like this incentive-driven? Do we need POINTS to keep us awake in class? I'm a firm believer of the it-may-be-crude-but-effective method... And well, if the shoe fits, wear it (Uhm, running out of cliches here...)

THE WORLD OF CINEMA... THE REAL WORLD!

I never was a movie freak... The people who have tried to get me to watch films will know that... But then, our maverick prof, A F M, introduced us to what real cinema is all about... He's got some kick-ass ideologies and makes me proud to be an atheist. Disturbing thoughts into today's world, and some of his lines, and not just the funny ones, will stay with us forever. Thank you, sir, for some of the most open-minded classses I've ever attended. Sorry for sleeping in session 14 :

AND LASTLY...

A BSchool is all about the people. Learning to adjust in groups, dealing with personalities, having fun, dealing with lots of things at once, trying to keep everyone happy, creative ideas to celebrate a birthday amidst trying to work on a research proposal powerpoint... It's an incredible learning experietonce, and nothing can replicate that... Stuff like this cannot be written down even by fiteen generations of Kotlers... It's all got to be experienced.
And somehow, all that madness, all that rush, all that bathing-and-eating-in-two-minutes-before-class-starts and all that experience is what you REALLY take out of a BSchool... And not necessarily accounts and theoretical behaviour models and strategies.

Friday, June 22, 2007

ORIENTED!

Right... So given all my MICA-zaniness and all, people have been asking me how the orientation went. Well, this is something I'd like to ask myself. How DID it go?

What we learnt:

1. That chicken tastes much, much better when it comes only twice a week. Something about absence making the heart, in this case, tongue and associated gastronomical entities, fonder.

2. Heavy lunch, air conditioning and economics is a perfect cure for insomnia.

3. If you don't sing in groups in autos, they'll switch on the horriblest of radio channels, so no matter how challenged by thy cords, vocalise!

4. A clever marketing ploy by !dea: Ask all their customer care executives to answer queries only in Gujrati so that noone will bother calling them up a second time.

5. If the orientation is anything to go by, we'll be seeing PowerPoint in our sleep. Oh, if we get any, that is!

6. Intentions of starting off a 'rock-only' practice session will peter out into AR Rahman eventually :|

7. 'Fountain' coke is a misnomer at the Chota. Now 'steady stream of droplets'...

8. Roxy can spot a chocolate cake at any point on campus. Don't believe me? Wait for the next birthday bash.

9. The best mass Communications school in India has the worst cellular range. If this keeps up, we'll have to call our college MIDA - Mudra Institute of Disconnections, Ahmedabad.

10. You can't download music or YouTube. Oh well. Atleast they have 300 Terabytes of songs and videos on the shared folder. Do they? Well, do they? Answer me someone? Hehe...

11. 70000 a year = 45 bucks per meal. Eat it up, folks!

12. No matter how much you crib about the system, when it's time to leave, you'll feel all nostalgic. It happened in Graduation, and it happened during orientation here.

"I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye."
- Affirmation by Savage Garden.

13. Adding chilli powder to all your food definitely makes things interesting, especially in the latter part of digestion. Hell, who said that's not without it's side effects? ;)

14. A certain Institute that Develops Management has taken away three of our students, as of last count. Now we have a vengeance! :D

15. MICA tests your creativity alright. Try playing a drum kit without it's high hat and cymbal. Plates and buckets, did someone say?

16. Did I mention our batch has it all? Yoga instructors, rappers, musicians, graphologists, tech geeks, marketing brains, gourmets, astrologers, Chemical Engineers (!), online advertisers, dancers, photographers, debaters, writers, singers, quizzers... You name it!

17. Mobile scrabble is fun.

18. A committee is not a person who someone else is committed to.

19. Guitar picks are lost faster than weight in engineering college hostels.

This is to be continued!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

MICAREER STARTETH

So it's been a week at MICA.

The train journey was fine. The only problem was at Vijaywada, my comfy seat was taken over by two pesky brats who felt the need to continually make their presence felt by screaming at the top of their lungs. But there is nothing that some good Metallica and a Creative Player cannot solve :-P

The MICA Mahindra Thoofan took me and my Chennaimate Rahul to MICA. The driver, en route, felt the need to slow down whenever an aethetically pleasing sample of the X chromosomed species was passing by. Finally, after picking up a couple of stray bucket-buying fellow MICAns who found our Thoofan by serendipity. Got to MICA - finally. The place is, as has been documented numerous times over, beautiful.

Meeting up with people who I knew just as Orkut faces was the high point of the week ;-)
Let me try to 'structure' my thoughts here...

Food: People seem opinionated over it. But somehow three years of staying at Kaveri Men's Hostel, Thrissur, seems to have hardened my gastronomy so much that anything tastes good :|
I was pretty shocked to see Idlis and all up here! I guess having a lot of Mallus in the admin has some benefit ;-)
I wonder how long the party will last. As Accenture has taught me, sheep are always fattened before slaughtering. So this feels like a li'l deja vu!

Hostel room: Neat, spotless, clean and uncluttered. Then I moved in :|
But since it is much cooler outside rather than in the kiln-like (Utsavism here!) room, we try to spend most of our time outside it! We do sleep... Well, for something like 4 hours, but then... It's sleep! And oh yes - for charging notebooks!

Band: The musically inclined are many, and we have fun making other people's lives hell at nights ;)
There's me and Prateek, a very modest but wonderful guitarist. Then Anshul, the drummer bereft of things to pound on :P and Gaurav - an incredibly talented keyboard player, who usually has the crowd gaping with their mouths wide open. And then, sigh... Me :| The only sad part is, only I seem to know the lyrics to most the songs so I am forced to sing. Guitar volumes are made high enough to cause constructive destructive interference (was that a pun or what!)

PJs and Puns: People asked me why I stopped PJing in Chennai. I told them I need a college atmosphere for that. And this is proof. A day after stepping into MICA, and close association with Rahul Ashok and Utsav, the PJs and pathetic puns are freely flowing. Sample these collaborations:

Q: What do you call an orientation programme for Electrical Engineers?
A: Induction programme :P :P

Q: What do you call it when a dog other than Roxy roams the campus in his stead?
A: Proxy :P

These and many more will promise to be the scourge of MICAns for two years :-P

The course itself: Ah yes. Ranging from sleep-inducing to downright cool. We are forced to watch clips on management leadership which would cure the most severe cases of insomnia. At other times, we are asked to describe ourselves and something that the rest of the batch would remember us by after two years!

Online-ness: I thought I saw the ultimate at work, when three people in the SAME CUBICLE were actually having a virtual conference together!!! Sheesh - and I was supposed to be thankful that I would not have to go through that again when I came to MICA. And what do I see? Orkut rules here - people scrap each other from other ends of the lawns! Well, I AM doing communications - and this is rather interesting :D
Reminds me of a Glasbergen comic wherein a couple are at a table, typing away on their notebooks.
Man types: After so many meetings online, it's great to finally meet you in person.
Woman types: Same here.

Oh well...!

And yeah - these are all the reflections I wanna draw after one week of being here. The crowd is good - the friends are good - the food is good - No really! I wonder how things will remain after a couple of weeks. As of now, wish me happy inducting ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

BAND AID - AND A TOUCH OF CHANDLER?

Okay... This was while a friend and me just started off trying to make sarcastic statements and be Wodehousean at the same time.

While not achieving the heights of Chandler Bing or Plum himself, I could come up with the following.

Theme: Rock band.

"I wouldn't call the drumming bad. I mean, I enjoyed the symphonic orchestration of a pile of vessels being knocked over on the kitchen floor at home. This was, in comparision, just a tad more out of timing."

"His singing bears the type of voice which makes you reinstate your belief in the adage 'silence is golden' "

"His guitaring was good! Yes! In between the half-baked solos and off-key riffs were some moments of perfect silence that occupied 90% of the time. So, yes, 90% good guitaring!"

"The only key that the band seemed to have was the one to their hotel room. And it looks like even that will not be needed for too long."

"The only time the band seemed anywhere near Rock is when a sedimentary object was projectiled onto stage in the general direction of the musicians."

"It was actually musical genius, I thought. Keyboardist playing in A, Guitarist playing in D, and singer doing it in G# minor. And you thought Yngwie Malmsteen was good at scales? Ha!"

"The guitaring was terrible till one string broke. Then he automatically became 1/6ths better."

"This band was single-handedly responsible for converting me from a lip-synch hater to lover."

"This type of performance is what mandates the term 'guitar so low' "

"And for once, we were actually thankful for Chennai's 10 o-clock curfew"

"It was the singular time I witnessed a power failure being greeted with a standing ovation."

"He was the type of guitarist you'd do anything to see play a power chord - watch him hold a C major while electrocuting him with 300 Watts of power!"

"I have heard nursery inhabitants play better percussion with rattles."

"Zildjian initially made cymbals as noisemakers to frighten away the enemies of the Ottoman Empire. This drummer could have become a national hero had he been in another era."

"Thankfully the mic was an inanimate object. Had it been a living being, it would have probably swallowed the battery and committed suicide by the first paragraph, rather than survive the entire performance."

"I like the brand positioning of this band. Rather than playing decently and just being sidelined as 'another decent band', they chose to play absolute rot, and carve a unique niche as a pathetic, terrible band. They now own that genre. Shitrock."

Special thanks to DD, who was there to witness these streaks of madness first hand ;)

Friday, April 27, 2007

THE GODS WERE THERE! : PART 2

Okay... So after the LH debacle, things could only get better.

So what exactly were we feeling at this moment? I mean, I've been a Maiden fan for just two years - but there have been people who were Maiden fans before they could multiply :P
We've been hearing The Trooper, Fear Of The Dark and Hallowed Be The Name repeatedly by college bands and pro bands (The standouts for me will be the performance by Rage at Trivandrum, and Moksha at the JamCAT. Of course, I haven't seen too many concerts to comment!). We've heard the song tons over on our players... Closed our eyes and visualised the six Gods actually being there. We've even given our own attempts to impersonate Bruce and Co :D

And bands from Dream Theater to Cradle of Filth have covered Maiden - now, in a few minutes - we were going to see THEM! In the flesh! The crowd grew restless. People were showing, and one particular nutter next to me was intent on making life difficult for those in his vicinity.

A more imaginative fellow inflated a contraceptive and it was being tossed all around, something like the 'Pig' during Floydian concerts :P Apart from this, there were random Spiderman impersonations by technicians, which won them a good hand, and the odd Causacian walking across the stage getting greeted by rousing cheers! :D


And then something happened. It all went dark. Like someone had pulled the fuse. Two guys positioned themselves on stage and they were holding on to some black tarpaulin like thing. You could sense something was in the air.. And then.. And then...

TA TA TA DE TA TA TA TA TA TE TA TA TA....

"Different World!" exploded into the night - with that incredible intro - And before we could fathom that the guitarists and Nicko were there... Comes in Bruce Almighty pumping that operatic voice of his - It's always amazed me how a guy of well over 50 can still continue to jump up and down on stage AND maintain that voice of his!

Heads were bobbing in unision. What disappointed me was not too many people seemed to know the new songs - hell, it was the AMOLAD tour, and people knew that there would be a lot of songs from the new album!! Still, it was mosh heaven. Remember those teeny mosh pits where hardcore headbangers would be, in front of the stage, while the rest of the college just sits back and taps their feet? Well, select the mosh, multiply by 1000 :P

Two more songs from AMOLAD (These Colours Don't Run, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns), and the crowd was, well getting impatient! :O It was only to be expected - AMOLAD was a progressive album and darker then the other albums which had more commercial numbers (ther term commercial is used ONLY with respect to other IM albums!! :D) and these last two songs were among the more progressive of the tracks.
Of course, we needed to get back to the moer popular numbers and it came with Wrathchild - which Dickinson dedicated to Leon Ireland, the ex-singer of Moksha.

The yells only got louder for The Trooper - Dickinson with his customary Union Jack - this guy's damn stage energy could still embarass any lead-footed college band!!!! The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg and For The Greater Good Of God followed. And the latter is what I'd been waiting for all evening - a brilliant 9 minute epic... Incredible lyrics - a headbanger-cum-air guitarist's delight! \m/

Then came the classics: Number of the Beast, Fear of the Dark, Run to the Hills, Iron Maiden.

FOTD deserves special mention here. It was obviously the moment the crowd had been waiting for. From the moment the opening riff sang out into the night - the crowd of close to 30,000 yelled along - it was pure ecstacy!!! The lyrics were perfectly mouthed - albeit with less mellifluous voices as Bruce's. People sang along with the solos - and the interlude was one big Ohohooooooooooh... :D

NOTB, RTHH were performed with huge choruses from the crowd. I'm not a fan of the song 'Iron Maiden' - somehow it never struck a chord with me! That sounds interesting - I'm a huge fan of Iron Maiden, but I hate Iron Maiden!

After these epics, Bruce announced he was terribly sorry and the show had to end now. It was a poor attempt at the thespian arts, because we knew they'd be back - we did need to pursuade them a little but they came back, alright!!

Two Minutes to Midnight, the concert staple, had a few people seriously considering whether their medulla oblongatae would be separated from the rest of the vertebra during violent hed banging! This was followed by a track which I have not followed much myself, The Evil That Men Do. And then came the coupe the grace, the icing on the cake!

The greatest metal song of all time - cheekily cute intro, exploding into metal madness - that can make the most austere of sages retort to violent moshing! Hallowed Be Thy Name - what an amazing, amazing piece of metal paradise that was! I can't explain it in words... I almost felt tears flowing down my eyes!! The first Metal song I fell in love with - seen it performed by others - pictured me becoming a hotshot guitarist and doing it once... But... Wow... To see the people who create it - perform it... Mindblowing.

And well, it was sad to see it end. 14 songs - a couple of hours, but a lifetime of memories.

From a personal point of view - it didn't get bigger than this. Okay, I'm not a hardcore Maiden freak like some of the others - infact I started listening to them just a couple of years back. But that shouldn't take away from the fact that I consider these guys Gawds :D


When me and Teddy left Chennai, a friend asked why we're paying 1500 to hear 'people play songs' :P
He just can't understand, dammit - this is more than just 'songs'... This is.. An experience! Surely, none of the 30000 who turned up at the Palace Grounds that day would need to travel half of India to hear whether the third para of FOTD starts with 'Watching horror films the night before...' or whether Smith really does play the C5 - A5 - B5 progression on Brave New World! We were there for the experience!!
And I swear, I finally realised what my father feels when he goes to Sabarimala... :D

Words cannot describe how we felt - heads bobbed in unision to McBrain's drumming - \m/ signs flew out in resonant frequency to Murray's licks and Smith's tricks... And when Eddie - 10 foot tall monster - ambled across stage, it was a bit too much for some of us to take :D
The 'robot' had a gun, and for a moment almost looked like he'd wanna shoot us (Hey, after all, Iron Maiden... Wants us, dead!) What this means for Indian rock is phenomenal. Like many people have said - we've seen HBTN, Trooper, FOTD performed time and again by college bands, and semi pros, and the Mokshas and Motherjanes. But hearing it from the people who WROTE it - it was phenomenal.

Iron Maiden is arguably the biggest name in metal music - and the fact that they played to an audience of over 30,000 screaming, raucous metalheads, and did it successfully - proves to the world that India is indeed the untapped destination for Metal and rock music. Bryan Adams has been playing to full stadii at Bangalore, and Waters has had a very successful show despite prohibitive ticket prices.

The stage is now set for the rest - Metallica, Scorpions, G3 (!). Of course - the question that would be lingering is how well extreme bands like Sepultra and Slayer would be attended. Iron Maiden and Metallica being the most popular of the 'heavy' bands can expect huge crowds. It remains to be seen whether the same crowd - okay, 30000 is too much to expect - will greet a Sepultra or a Pantera. But the signs are clear. India has woken up to rock. And the world is waking up to that fact.

\m/\m/

Sunday, April 22, 2007

THE GODS WERE THERE! - PART 1

Okay, I know this is a little late. Over a month late, to be precise, when other blogs by die-hard fans would be teeming with appreciation.

I could sound intelligent and say that I wanted a month to reflect and give a proper critique of the same, without sounding too enamoured of the magic that happened that night, but my candor leads me to saying I was just damn, plain lazy! :D

Okay, so more than the concert, it's the whole trip that me and my friend Teddy (name changed to protect privacy!) will remember - and not all are for the right reasons :P

So a few days into March, what looks like another day helping the Indian software industry grow, we come across rumours. Maiden in India? Naaaah.. Can't be true! And rumours continue to fly - across Orkut communities, forwarded mails, more communities, and more mails.

And then it hits us. www.ironmaiden.com announce that India is going to be a destination :D
Metalheads rejoice! The gawds were coming to Indyeah! \m/\m/

And so began the planning - Me and Teddy booked our tickets for the show, which were surprisingly cheap (DNA, you guys rock!) - and then off we went to Bangalore.

Everything was ominous - We missed our stop, and the auto driver at the next stop seemed pretty amused that we'd saunter all the way to the next bus stop only to get back in an auto :|
The auto driver must have realised we were from Chennai and assumed that we must have taken Chennai-esque auto fares for granted. But we, groggy as we were, argued and effected a discount of some 50 bucks from the originally quoted price. Reached my friend's place (dude - a big shout out to you!) and crashed.

Woke up later, had a bath donned our new Iron Maiden tees and went off to the Palace grounds. And tell you what was incredible - everybody seemed to be going there! Bangalore was alive alright... But now it seemed that there were more lives than ever!

And as we teemed into the Grounds... We knew something was going to happen - something huge. The screen - the wide spaces... This was gonna be bigger than any concert I ever attended in Chennai! The inevitable Great Indian Delay made sure things took off later than expected - but everyone was so used to this time system deferral that the grounds were filled only a good two hours late - even though some industrious ones had parked into the grounds the day before itself. Poor suckers might as well have come on the day of the show at noon - and they would have got a front row ;D

Okay, so the crowd was here, the atmosphere was building - bring it on!!!!

FTN - AND WERE THEY F-ed!!!

The first band, F*** The Name, were the GIR winners and got a chance to open. What an opportunity for these kids - you think that they'd make the most of it. Unfortunately for them and us, they made a total mess of it despite being greeted with generous applause. Slowly, but surely, a condescending attitude, and poor choice and order of songs saw them getting pelted with 1/3rds of their own name, suffixed with suitable pronouns. Yes, the sound was bad, but hell, these are GIR winners, not some local college band! Where's the soundcheck? Where's the 'Hey bas***d, increase the volume on the bass!' which came a good three songs later?!!! Come on, guys - this is not an excuse! You're semi pros now!!!

Finally, to pacify the crowd, they did a cover of KORN's 'F*** That'. Some elements of the crowd sang along, while others decided they had enough of F*** for one night!
A sad end to a seemingly talented band's great chance. F***ed up is what comes to mind.

PARIKRAMA - WOW!

Now THIS was a performance and a half! You notice the difference in professionalism that Parikarama and FTN displayed - these guys won the audience over with their humilty and humbleness ("We cannot believe we're opening for Maiden... We all grew up listening to them... Man we're performing on the same stage tonight..."). All this despite being one of the biggest names in India. Swayed the crowd. Compare this to FTN's attitude - and it's easy to see where the first faux pas was made!
Okay - as for the performance itself - mind blowing. Five originals, and the crowd sang along to 'But It Rained' and the anthemic choruses of some others - two new songs were introduced - and the lead singer really gelled with the crowd - encouraging them to yell along.

And which genius said violins cannot be used in rock? Take a look at their violinist, pick your jaw off the ground and keep mouth shut! :D

LAUREN HARRIS - WELL...

Steve Harris' daughter. Well, to be frank - she tried. But the criticisms were genuine. Pretty face, yes, but we wanted more than that. We metalheads are not like those people who let bubblegumpop singers with bleached hair become superstars. We want substance. And well, Lauren was a decent singer - but nothing extraordinary. It was obvious that nepotism, if I may use the word here, was the reason for her opening here over merit. And too monotonous it was for anyone's liking. The crowd for a while kept quiet in the understanding that Papa Harris might get offended but after non-stop, same-style crap over and over again, they just couldn't take it - and the same treatment meted out to FTN, albeit politer, was dished out to this dish.

Then came the incredibly long wait and then... Maiden :D

Next post! \m/

Friday, April 20, 2007

MY BAND... AND THE MEMORIES

You know... It's been near a year since I passed out of college.
And I bloody miss the place. Yes, I do. I mean... I miss the :

1. Doing crosswords at the back of the Mass Transfer classes ;)
2. Random adjustments... Er... Standardization of values in the laboratory.
3. Scooting classes - who me :D
4. Poor Jokes. Again - who me? :P

Etc etc.

But damn, what I miss most about college was undoubtedly the band...

We were never an amazing bunch of musicians... I mean, more than a band we were a bunch of friends who happened to know an instrument each. I mean, look at me - could hardly play guitar without making timing errors but they still bore with me and let me in :D

I remember how we formed... Well... We never had a fixed band structure per se anyway. After the previous band that we all looked upon disbanded for various reasons - some of us put our heads together.

During the intersem college fest, our semester put together a decent performance and won - but we found another vocal and guitar talent in the younger semester.

And then, on college day a few days later, 'our' band -
Me on guitar,
Steents on guitar
Speed on keys and seconds
Reppai on guitar
Freaku on backing
Robin on lead vocals.

We sang three poppy-country types that the crowd seemed to like. However, Snoopy, the diminutive singer and Raju, the babyfaced guitarist, had set the stage on fire themselves. Snoopy in particular - whose voice bowled over the oestrogenic part of college and he has remained every girl's secret fantasy ever since ;-)

But yes, we put our heads together and decided - we all were fraud Mallus (most!), enjoyed hanging out together, etc. And we had similar taste in music.

Well, almost. Raju was clearly entrenched in Metal roots while some of us were a litte more practical - doing Metal numbers with a pair of cheap acoustic guitars and no drum kit was something even the men from Maiden and Priest would have found slightly difficult.

Well, eventually I got myself an electric - so did Raju. His dedication to the guitar was legendary (I suspect it still is!). And then came, oh horror, horror, Bhoomika 2005.

We practiced hard. Real real hard. We even rented a drum kit and a senior, a Metal \m/aniac called Thermal ;) volunteered to pound for us. And then on stage things sounded good. But something was wrong. The crowd was booing. Only after our show... In total shock did we realise the son of unmarried parents at the mixer had messed things up so wonderfully - the net effect being only guitars were audible. Noone could hear anything we sang.

I was so angry I almost broke my guitar in two. It took some saner heads to calm me, and us, down.

Anyways... We had a long long break after that... Time to recuperate, time to think.

Thermal and Reppai passed out. Speed, me and Freaku had less time to devote as we started off our CAT preps. Snoopy and Raju started jamming with a drummer called Shivas - a school dude who used to be at the same music school that Raju went to.

Eventually, we knew we could always ask Shivas to perform with us in college - we finally had our drummer and a kit! :D
Our first chance at redemption after the Bhoomika debacle came at an intercollege fest our college hosted - the team turnout was very low, but we knew that shouldn't deter us from giving it our best. Raju surprised us first by saying he was going to drum for us :D
Well, it didn't strike us at first that since this was a competition, Shivas wouldn't be allowed to participate. So we went along... And practiced real hard - some of the best preps I've done were for this event... And some of the most memorable.

Take It Easy... Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Speed -> Drummer!)... Like a Stone... We did well on all these, and it was a tad disappointing to finish second when we thought we were good enough for first place.

And then... Came the one shot to redeem ourselves... After the debacle of 05, we knew this was the poetically justice-giving way of ending college performances on a high - Bhoomika 2006.

I'll never forget those 15 minutes - inarguably the best of my engineering college life! We weren't perfect or anything... But the response, the music, the everything... From Adat to Nothing Else Matters... We called ourselves 'Swap' that day because we were swapping instruments like crazy :-D

Being in a band rocks. It'll teach you all you need to know about negotiation, time management, crisis management and thinking on your feet. I love you guys :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A WHALE OF A TIME...

Now then. I've been thinking. (Yes, alarm bells-a-ringin') :D

We all say global warming is a huge thing these days. Well, what exactly do the experts say?

Increased CO2 -> Warmer Earth -> Melting of ice caps -> Increased water levels.

And it is the last mentioned in the cycle that causes panic. Indeed, when people in low-lying countries start finding that their floor is slightly dispossessed to behave moist, then you know we have a problem.
I don't think any of the other stages really causes panic - after all, how many people are interested in polar ice caps. How many iciclologists among us, please? Anyone? :D

Well, I have another theory as to why water levels increase... Shhh... Don't tell anyone. Whales are reproducing at a faster rate. Oh yes, much, much faster. It's possible that the intial global warming (all that carbon dioxide crap) made the sea warmer... And hence stimulating the testosterone in male whales (I hope the biology is right :P ). Hence, promiscuous activities of these leviathians eventually ends up producing progeny.

Over a period of time, the whale population expanded so much that enough water got displaced, and movies like Finding Nemo were made. Some rather astute chap with brilliant eyesight surmised that the water level had risen a few mm up from last year.

They eventually toyed with the whale theory, but were unsure about how people in India would accept this - after all, they have to prepare their children for competitive exams where this issue was important, but given the tabooness of sex education in India, decided the whale theory must give way to something more complex. Whence, they cooked up the CO2 stories.

And what about the heat, you ask? Well, every Mallu worth his salt knows that 'whale' means 'sunshine' in Malayalam... So... Er, join the dots :P

So there you are, my friends. The whale theory. Like a friend said, "Archimedes said this years ago. But noone believed him."

:D

Monday, February 05, 2007

... OF THOSE SKILLED, LESSER-KNOWN ARTISANS...

A few weeks back, my watch decided to do something funny, seemingly just to irritate me.

No, the tourbillon did not conk, nor did the escapement do anything weird. What happened was quite strange. The metal 'border' surrounding the screen that displayed the date, decided to sever relationships from the parent body and wriggled loose. What ensued what quite frustrating for anyone who proudly proclaims he paid 24 Bahraini Dinars for a good Seiko - this frame performed gymnastics around my watch , and during it's dial-trotting adventures, frequently getting itself entragled with the hands, hence rendering my watch unfit for all purposes chronological.

Since I am a strong advocate of using something for more than mere decorative purposes, I decided to get the damn thing fixed. Sheesh, imagine. Because of a stupid problem like this, I couldn't wear a watch, which was my primary source of telling time (for all my addiction to mobile telephony, nothing beats time-telling like the good ol' wristwatch). More than that, I feel this sense of nakedness when I don't have that reassuring warmth of the enclapsed timepiece around my wrist. Like having one leg of your underwear removed. Bad analogy, yes. Let that pass.

And on one of my frequent perambulations around Chennai, I stop by a watch repair shop. To me, this was just what I was looking for. Seedy, yes. But when your watch is down and are desperate to fix it, you really don't look for aesthetic interiors.

I removed my watch and handed it to the 'watchman', so to speak. This was the first time I had the opportunity of seeing what these people actually do behind the glass window (My previous repairman in Kochi had his cubicle distanced to the back of the room - maybe he didn't want to divulge KFC-esque secrets?). What I saw stunned me.

It was so simple, yet, a young, impressionable mind like mine was in wonder. I was standing there, watching this man, as he cooly removed the back cover, And with tweezers oh-so-delicate, removed the entire mechanism dextrously. Needless to say, if I'd attempted the same venture, there would be quite a few spare parts flying around in the room. He separated the dial body from the turning-knob-screws, and the icing de la cake - took the estranged metal frame, applied the right amount of superglue, and again, with all the grace of a Chinese using chopsticks, used those tweezers and fixed it on perfectly. You wouldn't tell it was repaired, even! And in a matter of seconds, he reassembles the jigsaw and hands it back, perfectly working.

And how much, I ask? Five rupees! I wish I could have paid him more! :D
Here I was, impaired with my watch's body parts tripping over each other, and this magician waves his magic tweezers, solves the problem and asks for just five bucks?

I'll bet there are so many other arts like this, which we take for granted... Some which we may even make fun of - cobblery, for instance - but seriously, how many of us would possess the skill to do it?

This may seem a silly thing to blog about... But to me, that day... That one incident - made me realise how vital these unsung heroes - these lesser-known artists are... Tell me, what would you do in a world with no watch repairmen and the tourbillon of your 3 lakh Rolex decides to stop rotating? ;)