Thursday, July 28, 2005

again and again and again


How would it be if someone keeps saying something again and again and again ? Like, how would it be if we all start publishing our blog posts from the first one again and again ? For one, we ourselves wouldnt be interested in reading it. Certain things when repeated over and over can be sustained twice, thrice maybe - but definitely not more.

If that is the case, how is it that the TV channel TBS SuperStation exist ? And that too with a very decent viewership ? They run boundaryless repeats of every sitcom possible - Cosby Show, Home Improvement, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends and lately Sex & the City. Not just sitcoms but even movies like - Austin Powers I/II/III, Legally Blonde, Serendipity, The Truman Show.. - it is tough to differentiate one day from another in the TBS-TV.

And off late, TBS has signed up for the rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond show for the next 11 years !!. Considering the fact that Raymond had 230 shows and with the conservative show-rate of 1 epsiode per day for 5 days a week, the show will be repeated 11 full times for all the 9 seasons !!!

Not that I complain, Iam one big addict of TBS shows and my TV is always on Channel 17 from the moment I reach home uptol atleast 10:00 PM, but honestly, wouldnt it just get tiring at some point ? How can a channel target audiences with just repeating repeat performances ? That too when some of these epsiodes also perform a parallel rerun in FOX, WB, CBS and other local channels as well.

But anyways, I will stop here, 'coz TBS is showing Austin Powers - The spy who shagged me for the multi-billion trillion million gazillionth time and I havent gotten tired of it..; not yet... baby.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

woes of a bachelor - 2


With the heat wave sweeping across the NorthEast US and Wash,DC temperatures waiting to soar in three digits shortly, this weekend was not a welcome one. However I did have a few exciting events - being woken up early morning by the fire alarm, flashing lights and defeaning fire engines to start with; biking half the Mt. Vernon's trail (map on the left) only to find almost toward the end that we were biking in exactly opposite direction; planned for bowling as plan-A with Dirty Dancing on a open air theater as plan-B - only to cancel both plans and end up doing stargazing getting a neck pain... - a nice weekend.

And we had a birthday party of one of our friend's kids. It was a gala with lots of people pouring in, talking, rambling, yapping and what not in between the mouthfuls - we had an awesome time.

These kind of desi parties are good fun and good way to enjoy a weekend - eating when someone else's cooking, meeting scores of people, gossips/rumours/short stories/long stories/teasing/ragging.... - and loads of Indian delicacies.

But is it just that ?

One big trend in the desi get-togethers is the fact how bachelors are easily singled out. There are always the married people with kids - these kids steal the show playing & fighting and the parents sit & admire the kids, occasionally irritating them with stuff like "Mamakku hello sollu", "Thank you sollu", etc., The married folks flock together with the wives exchanging pleasantaries with each other, the hubbies shouting around slowly pulling the wives into discussions, teasing each other and all that.

Enter the bachelors into the party. There are two significant attributes to bachelors:
1. Always arrive in gangs
2. Always arrive late.
We slowly move around trying to mingle with others and at the same time avoid them as well - and in this process finally end up sticking with each other. We stand in a circle of our own - laughing, making jokes - the same things we would have done otherwise anyway. The only differences are that the volume is low here and the teasing is somewhat decent compared to other times. A few also try picking up kids, playing with them. Some others carry a new digi-cam shooting random pictures, which they will possibly never see more than one anyway.

The food bar is open after a agonising wait and the bachelors are specially called to have food. There is always the impression that we bachelors come to these get-togthers just for free food. It may not be fully wrong, though. And this is the killer time, when folks are in line for the buffet , that there is some chit chat between the two distinct communities - bachelors & the married ! The typical questions like "So when is the marriage annoucement ?", "When are you visiting India next ?", "When are you coming to OUR house ?" flow. And the victimised bachelor gives stupid laughs and tries shooing away the questions, only to find himself caught with the same questionnaire coming from a different person during the second helping. Sometimes phrases like "...lucky you guys, you dont have a commitment and can do as you wish.." can be heard. Not sure if it is a compliment, or if it is sarcasm or just a show off translating into ".. I have a wife & kids and Iam complete/perfect. You are single and worthless.."

Slowly after a couple of couples start leaving, the bachelor gangs try slipping away -a midnight movie mostly in the plans. Sometimes we just get lucky. Other times end up with us staying long after everyone is gone helping arranging the chairs and dumping the trash while also receiving free advice one-one with a experienced married man/couple on why we shouldnt postpone our marriage or why we should buy a house or what I should be doing with my life...

As the night settles in and when each of us say good bye and get dropped off, when we walk along the pavement, on the elevator and entering the home - the questions and the advice do remain clogging in the head, eating the brains, generating confusions... . Until the roomie pops up a drink and TBS channel starts AUSTIN POWERS for the umpteenth time, and bachelors become bachelors again..

PS: woes of a bachelor - 1 .


Friday, July 15, 2005

harry potter and the borders bash


Dont worry. This is not a review of the latest Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince and Iam not going to give away any secrets or break the suspense here. Unfortunately I was not even able to get a copy of the book on the opening day. Procastinating as usual, I had delayed reserving my copy and the cut off for reservation at Borders bookstore was July 2nd.

Neverthless, when my local BORDERS bookstore announced a big bash as a prologue to the release of the book I decided to pay a visit and see what was in store. The fun was planned from 9:00 PM July 15 till midnight when the book bundles will be opened. I walked in and the Borders salesperson asked me if I wanted to volunteer for the kids event. I happily said yes. They gave a wizard hat, and a label that pronounced me as one of the dementors. (dont giggle!) - Borders sales people had taken all the nice adult characters. I was incharge of the Internation Music section and my job was to try and keep the kid-rowdies at order as much as I could.

There were hundreds of kids. Hundreds and hundreds. They were all wonderfully dressed as various characters from the Rowling books. Most of the boys were of course Potter or Ron and the girls were Hermoine. But you could see almost everyone including Hagrid. The dress was accurate as that of the movies. Potters carried the birthmarks on foreheads, Hermoines carried a huge cat, Dracos carried brooms. And irrespective of their fancy outfits, all kids were universally mischievous like the Weasley twins. There was Zonko's fake magic shop selling wands and candies. The espresso coffee shop had become Madam Rosemerta's Inn and carried potions. It was like as if Halloween had made it early this year. And as if you were at Hogsmeade near the Hogwarts school.

The main event was a treasure hunt and a Marauder's map was provided with cryptic clues. The kids were divided into teams of 10-20 sizes and we had 37-40 teams - it was way too tough to count. The kids were running around trying to figure out the clues. As everywhere, the Hermoines were more meticulous in solving the tricky questions than the boys. Further, the parents were more interested than their children trying to solve the riddles. Some kids were plain running around. A few were playing ground-quidditch. And there was a kid who had covered his whole face and running around, bringing down the book shelves that came across his way. There was also a section were kids were taught to make wizard hats and a few were having face painting done. The bookstore staff and us volunteers had a tough time to try and have the unruly young wizards & witches and their parents in order.

It was too much fun and interesting to see the kind of publicity and marketing being done for a children book. And it was enjoyable to see parents spending lot of energy, time and money and encouraging their kids to read. Nice to have been a part of the launching ceremony of hopefully yet another interesting Potter adventure. Expecto patronum !!!


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

shopping - the mail in rebate menace


I am never good at the whole analyze-search-deal-buy-claim kind of routine. Some of my friends and colleagues spend a better part of life looking at dealinfo or dealstobuy or similar kind of web pages and from what I hear their spouses are 'live' crawlers for some of these sites. One of the key reasons I dont like the deals offered in them is primarily because most of them are mail-in-rebates, possibly the biggest scandal in the USA jointly organized by an association of all consumer goods companies.

The mail in rebates is one of the most brilliant plans that these companies have come up with. First there is this bright rate-card that boasts in all uppercase and bold black with a yellow background yelling something like - ONLY $1200 - and in fine print, almost invisible to the human eye, there is a note added with a * saying after $300 mail-in-rebate. And the poor consumer, who is captiavted by the rate, realises the rebate offer but it is too late since he has made a decision almost, finally makes the deal paying $1500 hoping that at some point of time he will get the $300 back.

Most of the time, these organizations rely on the sheer laziness of the person to file a rebate claim. Statistics (from Washington Post) show that atleast 15% of rebates go unclaimed because of laziness or missed receipts. The next ploy is to give forms that ask too many questions which you get bored to fill by the due-date. Or ask for product codes, UPC codes, bar codes, key codes, copies of receipts, manufacturer seal from the side of the box etc etc., and make sure that you go through a hell of a time before you can even spot it. For some software you may need to install the software and discover the key- something like a Da-Vinci code kind of complicated discovery and you will spend over half hour to even finish the 5 line rebate form.

Assuming that you had all the patience to peel of the codes, discover the keys, photocopy the receipts, purchase envelopes, affix stamps and send the rebate - the next step is just to wait - no timelines. This wait is everlasting and if you are extremely lucky you will get a response. Sometimes this response is just a card that says that the rebate is rejected because it was filed with insufficient information. And you can be persistent and follow up again and wait. In the meanwhile if you move to a new apartment or a city, you have chosen to say good bye to the rebate forever. And beyond all this, if you still remain the lucky Lucy, you will get a rebate check after 4 or 5 months.

Isnt it ridiculous that even hi-tech companies that manufacture computers that can do million complex calculations in milliseconds take 5 months to process 5 lines of rebate information and send a check ? Of all the mail-in-rebate stuff that I ever bought (which is almost 10 atleast), I just managed to get only one back so far - thanks to my laziness...

So, thatz why my friends, I never recommend to buy a stuff because it has a mail-in-rebate offer. A few of my friends will happily nod at what I say and a few might not, but Iam pretty sure that this one definitely will agree one hundred percent :).


Monday, July 11, 2005

music & movies under the moon


Fairfax County, Va offers enjoyable evenings for music and movie lovers these 2 weeks.

On July 13, a tribute to the swedish music troupe ABBA is offered at the Wolftrap theater. The show will feature popular songs from ABBA's golden collection and starts at 8:00 PM. The lawn tickets are priced at $22. For details, visit

Starting July 15 until July 23, Cox communications - the very same company that loots us with the cable bills monopolising Alexandria communities- sponsors Movies under the Moon festival at George Mason Univ, Fairfax. The restaurants open at 6:30 PM and the movies start at 8:30 PM every night. The open air theater features interesting movies like Sound of Music, Harry Potter & Prisoner of Azkaban, Aviator, Rocky, Dirty Dancing etc., The proceeds at the restaurants benefit Inova Fairfax hospital for children. The movies themselves are FREE !!!. This promises wonderful sunsets to remember. For a more detailed schedule visit

So if you are in DC area, a movie buff, appreciative of cosy romantic evenings, pop music lover, try foxtrot or cha-cha with your partner under the stars for a soft song, single & have nothing better to do - if you meet any one of these criteria, this is where you gotta be the next few days.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

bloggers around the beltway


This weekend the Indibloggers of the DC Metro area decided to meet and associate real faces with the ideas and opinions that were echoing all across the world wide web. Sri Siva Vishnu Temple cafeteria was the chosen venue for this meet. Senthil came up with the logo !! (Why did anybody not make caps or T-Shirts ? Next time, perhaps). Arvind, Ganesh and Thennavan did most of the networking and got all the folks together in one place.

Raman, Eshwar and I drove together. By the time we entered (late, as usual), the rest were already in place taking the centerstage in the cafeteria. We had a laugh festival for a long time. The leg pullings started without any warnings and we kept laughing and laughing to our heart's content.

It didnt feel like we were meeting new faces. It felt more like a College Alumni meet. The topics ranged from anything to everything. And it was all fun.

It was nice to get to know the bloggers of DC and be able associate with them. Mukund, more popularly known as Thennavan in the web-world, hails from Srirangam - my father's native. Senthil and I share the same graduate school at Chennai. Robbie and Ganesh were pitted against each other, though mostly Ganesh was cornered. Arvind, Raman and Eshwar need no introduction to me.

Overall it was wonderful evening and we all had so much of fun. I hope Siva Vishnu Temple doesnt ban us from entering their premises after the laugh riot we had. Thanks to the organisers and I hope we will all meet again. Until then, let the bloodbath happen in the blogs !!;)


Friday, July 08, 2005

click of the heart


All I needed was one photograph.

We have studied together for four long years at college and I have always been mesemerized by her. I have spent many classes staring at her, many evenings thinking of her and many nights dreaming about her. Coward that I was, I had never opened my mouth, leave alone my heart to her.

And today was the last day. We will probably never meet again. She was going of to Madison or someplace in the US to do a masters. My roommate had a 35 mm that he used only once during a Kodaikanal trip and his photos never saw the light of the day anyway. I borrowed the camera and my aim was to take a picture of her for my memories.

But the odds were against me. For one, she spent all morning with some girly gang and saying bye to the professors. Most of my gang wouldnt do that anyways - they fared bad and were expecting to spend another semester in the college. During the lunch I didnt want to look odd holding a camera when the others were holding buffet food in plastic plates. Late noon was when all our class sat together and started general chit chat. The active guys/gals were trying to run some game to keep the crowd engaged. A few 'potential' couples were missing, proposals were mostly happening in the quadrangle park or silent corner near the cooperative store.

And I started casually walking up and down with my camera pretening to take photos of everybody but focusing all my energy and the lens on her & her only. I managed to click one, but the canteen-walah had to ruin it for me walking between the camera and her exactly during the click. Noon became evening and people started leaving one after other saying goodbyes. Some of the missing couples reappeared with smiles, a few came back glum and separate and tried mingling. She came by and said "Bye. All the best." and shook my hand ... and by this time I knew I had lost my chance to quickly take a snap.


Several years later, I close my eyes and am able to travel farther & farther when Iam back at my college days. And I can see her clearly, smiling, cheerful, her eyes and mouth talking at the same time .... and I realised I didnt need a camera click to remember her by, for I had etched her memory deep inside....

PS: Eva is here because Iam just too mesmerized by her (and this photograph). It is my wallpaper for now and I can hardly click around anywhere in the computer.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

hurry.... - the half blood prince


Rowling will be rocking again.. In less than 10 days, the sixth installment of Harry Potter is getting released. Following the runaway success of Socerer's stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of Phoenix, the sixth release featuring Harry, Ron & Hermoine's sixth year at school will be out this year - Harry Potter & the Half-blood prince.

Most of the local bookstores have run our of reservations for a copy of the book on release date. Both Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores in my local area are planning for a midnight celebration for the book release, just like last time. If you want to grab a copy, stop here and rush to the bookstores right away, this second.

For those of you wondering about what "half-blood" means - mudblood stands of wizards born to non-wizard or ordinary & boring parents and pureblood stands for the wizards born to wizard-witch parents. So logically half blood means one of the parent is a wizard or witch. Last book ended with a small tragedy with Sirius Black's leaving his mortal life and no Quidditch game. Cant wait to see what the half blood prince has to offer.

And for those of you who think this series is just for kids - your assumptions are absolutely wrong. Give it a shot and you will not keep the books down until you have read em all, again & again.

Hurry, Harry... we are waiting.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

bore of the worlds


Last night got to watch the latest movie offering from Amblin Entertainment - War of the Worlds. Boasting bigger names like Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise and a story by HG Wells, the movie generated too much of great expectations.

Millions of years ago, the jobless aliens had apparently buried some tripods with hi-fi vaporizing weapons. They suddenly start sprouting up in the early 21st century triggering a massive extermination. The so-called hero of the movie, divorcee Tom Cruise, strives to save his children from these merciless murders and this is what War of the Worlds is all about.

Some guy sharing the same name of the world famous director Steven Spielberg has been on the rampage in the recent years defaming the great director who once released movies like ET, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Lost World. This namesake first surfaced with a movie called A.I. in 2001. Then came low-profile movies like Catch me if you can and The Terminal. And now this. Definitely this movie didnt need a Spielberg to direct...

The storyline is too weak. One cannot blame HG Wells for this because he wrote this story about a hundred years back. HG Wells was the Michael Crichton of his times. Underline the "of his times". One needs to travel in the time machine that HG Wells himself wrote about and watch is movie to enjoy it at its fullest.

The movie has too many useless characters -
* like the son Robbie who easily reaches his mom's house in Boston and didnt have to undergo the troubles his dad & sister had to;
* the mother
who also seems to survive the extermination alongwith her parents;
* the daughter Rachel who is of course cute but then is the usual irritating one with her shrieks and questions;
* Tim Robbins, who is killed by Tom Cruise after giving them shelter to stay and being a nuisance
* Tom Cruise - who manages to drive the only running car across hundreds of miles and goes through hellish trouble to save his daughter, when his son is able to reach the destination with utmost ease;
* and finally, the Aliens who could have taken over the earth millions of years ago instead of planting thousands of tripods and waiting for so long to take over - and by doing this, making us go through the pain of sitting through this entire movie.

War of the Worlds - sama bore machi...


Friday, July 01, 2005

mismatches made in heaven


My friend started laughing now.

It had started as a serious discussion. As we kept on talking, he started to twitch his lip & nose, slowly smiled, grinned, laughed and finally started rolling with laughter. I was not sure whether I should share his happiness because the fun had originated from my love-life.

"I think I like this girl" - this is what I told him. It was a typical Saturday post midnight talk. We had been to a movie, came back to find that there was a power outage and were hanging out in the mottai madi of the hostel. "I think about her all the time machan", I said. My friend was genuinely interested. "Really", he said, "tell me more".

He seemed interested and I went on and on about her, how we met, how we clicked. "I thought you two were just friends" - my friend interjected in between the story. I told him how much I was in love with this girl. And he said seriously "you need to let her know your feelings".

That was the problem. I needed his advice on this because I was sure that neither our families nor the society would approve of our jodi. "There are certain key differences", I explained. He narrowed his brows.

Well, for starters she was older than me, not much - 'just' by 14 months - "Hmm..."
She was 2 inches taller than me. - "Oh..o.."
She hated sports. She is a non-vegetarian. - "uh..huh" - this is when he started smiling.
She was from a different religion - "ahh, I see.."
She was from the North. - "anything more", he said and started laughing

My list was just half complete. There were other stuff like how much she preferred only carnatic music or she hates computers or the fact that she had just leant eleven words in Tamil, most of which cant be used in public anyway.

"Whatever made you think she is the one for you ? "

Honestly I didnt know. Was it her smile, the care she showered, the affection she displayed, the cheer she showed in my successes..... or whom am I kidding - was it just physical ? I didnt know if my feelings were right, but they definitely felt right when I was around her.

Did I hate myself so much that I liked someone who was completely my opposite ?

This didnt seem like a match made in heaven. It didnt seem like a match made anywhere for that matter. But then here I was, madly in love with the girl knowing for sure that my feelings for her would never be accepted by the society.

But that is what probably love is all about. Unconditional,undemanding, unexpected.....

Don't surrender 'cause you can win
In this thing called love
When you want it the most, there's no easy way out
When you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is