I’ve been here at Madurai for the past 4 years for my education and I hadn’t visited அழகர் கோவில் and பழமுதிர்சோலை even once in this time. I vaguely remember visiting பழமுதிர்சோலை when I was a little kid. So I had it up there on my wishlist for quite a long time and yesterday Senthil had told me about his plan to go to the temple. I wasn’t ready for the German class and the test today and had decided to bunk the class to escape the test and a boring, long session. I didn’t have any plan to go to the temple though I had told Senthil that I’d try to come if I woke up on time. So when I got SMS from Senthil and when Prabhu came to my room to remind me, I suddenly thought for a moment and decided to go. We all had our breakfast and started for the temple at 9.30. About an hour and half later we were at the temple.

அழகர் கோவில்
அழகர் கோவில்

We visited the deities at the அழகர் கோவில் and then started our trekking towards the பழமுதிர்சோலை முருகன் கோவில், it was a long exhausting walk up the hill along rocky terrain and steep slope. My calf muscles were resisting my every step forward, but still with company and enthusiasm in my mind, we reached the temple after 45 minutes of trekking. The shrine was very small, too small to tell the truth, and we had a peaceful dharshan. When we were about to leave the temple, Senthil saw the அன்னதானம் மண்டபம் and suggested that we could have lunch there and we were lucky enough to be taking up the last few places available. The food was minimal and good and definitely more delicious and palatable than what is offered at hostel ( 😉 ). Then Senthil suggested going to the நூபுர கங்கை shrine that was a bit higher up the terrain from the temple. Once we started walking up, we realized how drastically steep the way up was and we had to use all the energy from the lunch to make our limbs labour ahead. Once we reached there we decided to take bath in the water and did so. It was so soothingly pleasant in the hot weather. We thoroughly enjoyed getting soaked in the water and started our trek down after drying ourselves a bit. The trek downwards was exerting in a different way due to the inverted slope. On the way down, we stopped near a tree which a had a board that read – ‘ஔவைக்கு சுட்ட பழம் வேண்டுமா, சுடாத பழம் வேண்டுமா என்று கேட்டு காட்சி தந்த இடம்’! We took photographs of ourselves standing beside the tree and then the tree itself and continued the trek downwards listening to the music playing on Prabhu’s mobile.

ஔவையிடம் சுட்ட பழம் வேண்டுமா சுடாத பழம் வேண்டுமா என்று முருகன் கேட்ட மரம்
ஔவையிடம் சுட்ட பழம் வேண்டுமா சுடாத பழம் வேண்டுமா என்று முருகன் கேட்ட நாவல் மரம்
Myself and Prabhu
Myself and Prabhu

We reached அழகர் கோவில் in about 40 minutes and returned to hostel by a long and tiresome bus journey. The entire trip, though tremendously exhausting, was worthy and memorable. For the rest of the snaps taken during the trip, click here

விண்ணை தாண்டி வருவாயா’ as a movie doesn’t even score the pass mark. But as something portraying a relationship between 2 persons with their own faults, it scores much more. But love is much more than ‘love at first sight’, ‘hugs’ and ‘kisses’ that come a bit too often in the movie. The hesitations and indecisiveness are very much there in real life love too though many can’t appreciate it. The movie was irritating at a lot of times with a lot of cliches and a gross portrayal of love at times – but real life can be more unrealistic at times. So ‘விண்ணை தாண்டி வருவாயா’ doesn’t deserve the ‘likes’ and ‘hates’ it has got. It is just a movie, go watch it. If you can’t take it, just feel free to walk out any time. 🙂

The music is really wonderful as ever with A.R. Rahman and the visuals were really nice, so the credit goes to the cameraman. This is an effort that needs to be appreciated for breaking away from the paradigms of Tamil cinema, though it is nowhere near perfection.

On the backdrop of Sachin Tendulkar’s undefeated double hundred in an ODI, a lot of issues on how a lot of people consider Tendulkar have started getting to me, hence this post. The first thing that is so often said about the genius is that ‘he always plays for himself’. The surprising thing is that a lot of those who say such mean things don’t have anything to back it. Is playing for your country in the World Cup a couple of days after your father’s death called ‘selfish’ or can any of those persons who claim Tendulkar is a selfish player quote where he has played selfishly to cause India to lose a match.

Some other group of people may say that Indian team winning is more important than Sachin Tendulkar playing well, yeah I do agree. But they also make a silly statement that ‘If it is India or Tendulkar, I will choose India’. Yeah I appreciate their patriotism, but isn’t supporting a fellow human, a fellow Indian who also has the same amount of patriotism, equally important. I know India is country which takes pride in ‘Unity in diversity’ and that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression and thought, but it is really *bad* to use it to sling mud on someone who is as patriotic and far more skilled! Anyone know how it is to face a Shoaib Akthar or a menacing Dale Steyn at full throttle and still come out with blazing guns? Can someone shoulder the expectations of a nation of about billion people for more than twenty years on the trot and still be successful more often than not?

Also there was a lot of noise caused when BCCI, a few years ago, famously mentioned that ‘all the players of the cricket team represented BCCI and not India!’ To the people who think so, I would point my middle finger at them and swear obscenely! Sportsmen with supreme skill and mastery deserve whole-hearted appreciation without any man-made boundaries and barriers – I love Roger Federer as much as I love Tendulkar and I am more attached to Tendulkar as he is a fellow Indian. He is a fine man on and off the field and definitely a role model for a lot of budding Indians!

Political crap often use a lot of issues to stay in the news or to play communal politics to keep the foolish voters enchanted like ‘Sachin belongs to Maharashtra first and not India before it!’ and all those assorted and canned trash. I have a few interesting thoughts in my mind regarding the whole issue:

1. How can Sachin Tendulkar play for India without scoring runs? He scores runs for India to win. Definitely a person who has played cricket for so long with undying passion knows more about cricket and playing than those noise-makers.

2. Aren’t ‘countries’ man-made boundaries for political and other reasons causing irreconcilable separation between people?  Even still, aren’t countries made up of people?

3.  Isn’t humanity more important than anything else – even patriotism?

4. When you can’t appreciate one of your own for his achievements what the hell are you going to do with your so-called patriotism? Imo, patriotism was a man-made creation to keep people united within the man-made boundaries.

If you can’t appreciate someone, just STFU!

Cricket and tennis are two of my most favorite sports and each has its own charm and finesse that enchants the viewers. Cricket has started to become a game that is totally partial to the batsmen and that does take a lot out of the beauty. Cricket is supposed to be an even game between the bat and the ball it is no longer so and very recently money has started to take more importance than bat and ball or the pride of playing for the country and performing well. Of course it is always great to watch a Tendulkar or a Dravid or sometimes Sehwag or Yuvraj when they’re tearing the leather ball to pieces, but to watch it in every cricket match, it is boring. Great cricket is played only when there is an even contest between bat and ball or when the ball is slightly more dominant. It is a treat to watch a Dale Steyn charging in and testing the batsmen thoroughly and at the same time batsmen fighting to stay alive and at the same time score. When scores above 400 are becoming chaseable, it does say something about what cricket nowadays has for the bowlers. Budding youngsters will no longer want to become a bowler! Pity that Cricket is on a decline imo until something is done to get the focus back on good cricket instead of the goddamn money.

Tennis meanwhile is infinitely better, with two players matching their skills, athleticism and durability against each other. Pistol Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and of course my dear friend Venkatakrishnan were those who made me take a good look at Tennis and boy didn’t I fall in love with that game since then! Watching Federer’s wizardry, Nadal’s endless energy and never-stopping legs that help him reach unreachable balls and make winners out of impossible situations, unbelievable winners and angles from outside the court, wow this is a wonderful game, a treat to the eyes when the two players playing are good and evenly matched. It is also a game which requires focus on every single point of every game as that could be the difference in the final score. I thoroughly enjoy gasping for breath during tennis matches seeing impossibly good play. So any day, any time, I will always choose to watch a good tennis match than a good cricket match except maybe when Tendulkar’s playing 😉

I have been GNU/Linux user for the past couple of years and when I look back to see how much it has progressed, I can only gape in awe. I use Ubuntu in my laptop and Debian elsewhere and am familiar with these distros ( I badly want to try RedHat-based distros too! ), still when I came across this page http://bit.ly/6DUUBk which shows the wide range of nice software tools available for Ubuntu 9.10, I was surprised I didn’t know about most of the stuff though I have used Ubuntu for a long time, that too now I was using the latest Ubuntu Karmic Koala. I realized yet again of how little I knew though I often thought too much of myself.

Whatever software is there for the Windows platform, there are abundant equivalents that are at least as good in FLOSS and GNU/Linux world. There are also software for doing things which are impossible in a Windows environment which is GNU ecosystem’s niche. So am really glad that I got into FLOSS ecosystem and without doubt am benefiting hugely from its tremendous growth.

I have always had a strong sense of belief that when persons of diverse interests and expertise join and share, we can create a very strong ecosystem where there is nothing impossible. Still, God-knows-why, I did nothing about it. So suddenly when a couple of my friends from ECE asked me about learning Linux, it made me delve deeper and I had my Eureka! moment, feeling exactly as Archimedes would have. I thought, why not have a ‘Learning Club’, albeit an informal but thoroughly useful one with a few interested guys teeing off? So from the day this brand-new year was born, we (a few interested persons) decided to join and share our knowledge and learn? The benefit was going to be mutual and synergistic as each one of us brought something exciting to the plate. We decided to meet sometime everyday and discuss about virtually anything and everything and make ourself even more geekier.

For instance, most of these guys who use VLC, never knew it can be used to convert videos and audio to various formats. Ravi Teja gave a wonderful explanation on why a Hard Disk can have only 4 primary partitions. I had known vaguely the same thing, but his explanation made it even more clear though the answer was a Google search away.

Hoping to continue this initiative for a long time to empower a lot more friends and hand it over as a legacy to my juniors at college!

A mass-recruiting top services company visited our campus for recruitment in the first week of December. There were about 500-600 students hoping to make it to the list of selected candidates and there were many friends of mine among them. Of course, since myself alongwith 10 other fellow students had already got a dream job, we weren’t allowed to attend the recruitment drive and we were to help organizing things during the 2 days of the recruitment drive. On the first day, multiple sessions of Aptitude test were scheduled and I volunteered as an invigilator in one of the halls. With so many nervous fellow students around, the tension was starting to get to me. Once the written test was over, the students were starting to be called for interview in groups in our Men’s Hostel where I reside. So I was there helping when my classmate friends were preparing and writing the tests. We, the volunteers had a hectic time with a lot of running to do and at the same time we had to assess the nature of each of the 18 interview panels and send students accordingly as it was a make or break situation for all of them. I had a lot of students requesting me to send them to ‘technical’,’non-technical’,’HR’,’puzzle’ panels and the interviews were getting completed too fast and we couldn’t do much choosing. I sent a lot of students to panels they would’ve wanted to avoid, hoping that they’d make it through and get selected. My legs were aching so much out of non-stop running and at one point the pain became so unbearable that it didn’t make any difference if I was standing, sitting or lying down. I learnt valuable things in handling such situations so new to me and I have to admit that it was the excitement that kept me going despite the physical pain.

I had to don other roles as well, helping students with their preparation and giving them confidence. There was one of my friend, who incidentally happened to be the placement representative and one of the better performers in the college, who was in some dazed unprepared state before the interview that I had to stay with her, give her confidence, help her in filling the employment application form and all the stuff when she was literally shivering. Once she was done with her interview, she was sporting an attractive smile that conveyed to all that she had done very well. She conveyed her happiness and gratitude to me, but I politely reminded her that she deserved it and I just helped her get her focus. I was so happy that I contributed invaluably to someone’s life. Moments like these make me feel happy and proud throughout my life. One other good thing that happened was that I, a normally quiet person who likes to keep a low profile, got to interact with a lot of wonderful guys who were my fellow volunteers. These were sufficient for me to cherish those couple of days. 2 days went in a whiff and when the results were announced at the K.S. Auditorium on the second day at about 8 PM, I drowned in a feeling of extreme happiness arising out of happiness for my friends and my peers who had secured their jobs. I even doubt if I had felt even some percentage of the same happiness when I got selected for a job in a dream company. Anyways congratulations and my best wishes for all those who performed well, got selected and made my day!

This year on November 15, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar completes his 20th year in international cricket. What an incredible achievement that is. Tendulkar has always been the lone cricketer whom I loved so much as any other Indian does and he was one of the main reasons I started loving cricket more everyday. The man is such a complete human on and off the field that he seems to have a divine aura surrounding him. Of course comparisons with Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting and of course the Don himself will always be there, but none of them have even come close to experiencing the pressure and the weight of expectations that Tendulkar has had to face and succeed all these 20+ years. To have come through all such things and still have all the great cricketing records in his name, man he is the modern-day cricketing God! I am 21 years old now and this guy has been playing cricket successfully for 20 years! What a man!

Sachin Tendulkar

There is not a single eyesore when watching Tendulkar play – the divine straight drive, mesmerizing dance down the track to the spinners to hit a six, the delicate sweep and a unique paddle sweep, the brutally punishing upper-cut, inimitably perfect backfoot cover and square drive, natural flick shot, damaging hook and pull shot, the brand new reverse-sweep and scoop shots – you name any shot, this man plays it perfectly. All these years, he has grown and matured with the game, adapting himself to a variety of roles and challenges and performed outstandingly at each of them.

Enough of praising this man for whom any quantity of praise will always be insufficient. Let me quote my favorite innings that this man has played – a few of which I couldn’t watch.
1. Chennai test century against Pakistan braving a career-threatening back spasms taking India to the threshold of victory before others blew it.
2. 1998 Australian tour to India where he single-handedly took on and demolished the Aussie bowlers, particularly Shane Warne, pulling him for 4s and 6s from the rough – a territory where no one had ever dared to be in and the memorable twin “Desert Storm” innings which ensured that India made it to the finals of the tri-nation Sharjah cup and won it. After this tour, Shane Warne was no longer invincible and he started having nightmares of Tendulkar.
3. Century against Kenya in the 99 World cup a day after losing his father. He didn’t quit the tournament when he could have easily done so. He came back a day after the bereavement and hit a century and dedicated it to his father! That was very emotional and touching.
4. Brutal innings against Pakistan in the all-important 2003 World Cup encounter and I can still remember Tendulkar upper-cutting the then fastest bowler Shoaib Akthar for a six over backward point. That was quite an emphatic innings and statement made to the opposition after living in anticipation and pressure regarding that match for over a year.
5. Tendulkar has always been blamed for not winning enough matches for India, but he did single-handedly take India to an emphatic victory in the finals of the 2007-08 VB series with match-winning knocks. That was wonderful achievement for the man who has always reserved his best for the best team in the world.
6. A patient and composed century against England at Chennai took India to a victory that seemed impossible when 3 innings of the test were over with 4 sessions to play and 280 runs to win. Sehwag blasted the hapless English attack on the final session of the penultimate day to allow India a really good chance at chasing down. Still on the fifth day even though there was continuous progress in the score, wickets too were falling. At the fall of the fourth wicket, Yuvraj Singh, still sadly not a settled Test batsman came to the crease. Tendulkar shepherded him in the initial stages that Yuvraj, once settled, tore apart the attack and paved way for the improbable Indian victory with Sachin who scored the winning runs and reached his century at the same time with a boundary. Tendulkar was emotional about the victory and dedicated his match-winning knock to the victims and survivors of the gory 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, his home.
7. For a man who possesses such a silken cover drive, not to play that shot throughout a marathon innings of 241 not out is a great achievement. Tendulkar realized that he was getting dismissed playing the cover drive too often and totally cut out that shot, not even playing that shot once during a wonderful innings.
8. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, Tendulkar’s recent sublime 175 against the Australians chasing an impossible 350 which almost won the match for India reminded me a lot of the Tendulkar of old. It was such an enlightening experience watching that knock but as always Indian team failed miserably to cross the last hurdle, losing the match and breaking Tendulkar’s heart yet again.
9. Tendulkar has always played very well against the Kiwis – his first-ever double ton was against them. His highest score – highest by an Indian, 186 not out and the 160 odd not out he scored during India’s recent tour to New Zealand are fresh in memory for their exuberance and flair.

The list is endless and could go on and on, but I have to stop. Some unforgettable memories etched in mind are – the picture of Tendulkar pulling Shane Warne from the rough for a 6, uppercutting Shoaib Akthar for a six, the divine straight drive that shows up when in full flow, the hook against Andy Caddick in 2003 WC for a six, the cheeky uppercut over the slip cordon against the Aussie quicks. I have grown up with cricket and Tendulkar all my life and I can’t imagine cricket without this great man who still is as enthusiastic, passionate and energetic as he was at 16 and definitely he has a lot more years of cricket left and I am awaiting all wonderful innings eagerly. Hats off!

It’s been 6 months since I got recruited for a job, but a dear friend was so low on confidence and struggling with herself mentally, trying to get recruited. Since the initial companies visiting her college were high-profile and were interested in recruiting the creamiest of the creamy, she didn’t make it in any recruitment. She started losing hope and confidence and it was having a strong negative impact on her and her performance as the number of companies she attended kept on increasing. Adding to her misery was the fact that she didn’t clear the initial written round in any of the recruitment drives she attended. I know about her inside out and did keep insisting that it was only a matter of time till she will break through the barriers and get recruited, considering the talent she has, though she has done far too little justice to it.

At last the first breakthrough came when a IT giant came to her college for recruiting students for internships, she cleared 2 rounds of written tests – one on quantitative aptitude and another on technical areas, though she did with some malpractices she managed to get away with. That gave her a lot of confidence and made her feel a bit better though she was still scared and sulking about her job prospects.

During the time of my birthday a leading IT services company visited her college for mass recruitment and she easily made it. It was a cakewalk for her and we both were really really relieved!

So much the pressure of getting a job in the time of recession and post-recession that even skilled and talented students are pushed to the limits and how many still make it from the brink depends on a lot of other uncontrollable factors. All the best to all my peer students to complete their course and get a good job.