03 August 2012

David Pogue's lost iPhone

It seems that NYTimes columnist David Pogue lost his iPhone, and mother of all surprises, managed to get it back. Here is the account straight from the horse's mouth.

After reading that, I was left wondering what would have happened if it were anywhere in any of the (almost all) Asian countries. The person who managed to pick David's pocket, would have actually walked over to the nearest "phone service centre", where a friendly guy would have rooted out the phone, changed the baseband and other software, and made sure it would not be tracked by any kind of online tools. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what a smart thief would do.

I find it amusing that the thief did not have the brains to go the extra distance !

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 9:49 AM 23 comments

25 June 2012

Most plastic (non Royal Enfield) motorbike drivers are the scum of the earth. Here's why

1. No respect for their vehicles -- How long will it take to wipe your vehicle with a piece of cloth before you take it out for the day ? Most vehicles you see on the road are caked with dirt. Furthermore, in most cases, the mirrors are dangling on an awkward angle (on purpose), the chain links are loose and give out a rattling noise, the high beam lights are switched on, so on and so forth.

2. No road sense and discipline -- There is a mad rush to pass any vehicle that is there in front of them, even if it means putting their lives in danger. How often have you seen them move in an orderly manner ? Zilch. None. Nada. If there is a bus/car in front of them, it must be passed and they must move ahead, even if it means blocking the traffic that is coming in the opposite direction. Absolute morons lacking patience .

3. How many of these drivers know to use their rear-view mirrors ? More often than not, you see them cutting across lanes without even checking the traffic behind them. A sure shot recipe for accidents. Further, there is an urge to use the high beam in city roads. A simple way to get them stop using it, is to put them on a highway without a median, and make a truck double down on them with its high beam lights.

Having said all that, there are, of course, a very minuscule minority drivers who stick to the rules and drive perfectly well. And yes, there are some bad apples amongst royal enfield drivers too, who are an utter nuisance on the road.

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 4:06 PM 4 comments

02 June 2012

Any better time to revive this ?

Illayaraja's birthday - Can there be any other auspicious time to revive this blog ?
 
As long as people keep learning carnatic music, Illayaraja and his songs will never fade out from public memory.

Here is an instance.

It was the year 2002 in Bangalore. I was bit by the music learning bug, and decided to learn carnatic music. As is my wont, I wanted to try out something off beat, and having seen Prasanna strum out some nice carnatic notes on the guitar, I wanted to try out the same.

Off I went in search of a teacher in and around Domlur/Koramangala area and after many futile attempts where I was told to learn western classical, I finally zeroed in on one teacher.

This was a rather old man, who did not know any language except Kannada. My Kannada was/is rather passable, but I can always pick out phonetics from any new language, and add my interpretations depending on the context, to understand the meaning of a casual conversation.

The classes started in right earnest and call it a stroke of luck or whatsoever, the teacher was fairly happy with the way I was playing the notes. It is a different matter that when he was pushing me towards my first stage performance, I was forced to travel on business and when I returned, he was nowhere to be found, and that ended my brief stint at learning music.

Well, that was a digression and let us come to the point now. On one of those days when I was playing out some notes, he started a conversation with me. I replied in my smattering Kannada that I was from Chennai. His rather angry outburst - "Why are you wasting time in my class ?" He then asked to me to come along with him to his house. Since I thought this was something important, I take along with me another student, who can understand Kannada.

In his house, I see a room full of audio tapes, LP records and cd's of just two people. Steely Dan and Illayaraja. He then proceeds to play some of Steely Dan's records and tells me the equivalent western classical note.

He then takes a deep breath and pauses. He then gives out a stream of ascending and descending notes. He takes out his flute (he was a flautist), and plays those notes over and over again. He then tells me that in all the years that he has been teaching music, he is yet to see the ragam Vachaspathi used in a commercial format in the way he has heard till now, and yet to the purist, it was Vachaspathi in all its unadulterated glory.

In fact, I would have spent a few more years trying to track down the usage of this ragam in film music, and yet I have drawn nothing else except a blank.




That is the magic of Illayaraja. Someone who has no idea of the language could easily listen to this song and understand the nuances involved in it from a purist's point of view, and yet I can recollect this song being played in every nook and corner of TamilNadu when this movie was released.

Happy birthday. And thank you for those wonderful songs that bring back memories.

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 12:37 PM 7 comments

27 August 2011

Anna Hazare - Black, White, and shades of Grey

The recent events over the past few weeks have given rise to quite many questions.
Make no mistake, the questions raised by Anna are very valid, however bad/good his path may be. Haven't our very own holy scriptures and everything else mentioned this -- The path that you take may be through sludge, but you must reach Ayodha ? When our very own members of parliament quote vedas and such, I see nothing wrong in quoting it here.

Here is some food for thought for Anna's detractors. Time and again, the most common statement that is being brandished out without any thought is this -- India is a democracy and it is supreme. Now here are a few questions to those people.

1) Let us assume that in a constituency, a candidate A, out of 100 votes, polls 40. All the remaining candidates poll 60. Obviously enough, A is declared as the winner, oblivious to the fact that 60 candidates did not want him to be their representative. Now, candidate A is the choice of the majority and nothing else. In what way is this different from a group of people demanding something ? If they form a majority voice, why can't they get something done ? And yet, the off repeated statement is that the parliament cannot listen to the voice of a bunch of people who claim they have majority.

2) Gone are the days when a single party had the complete majority. We now have a bunch of people, whose parties would have fought against each other in a few constituencies, coming together post elections to form a government, out of nothing but pure greed. Now, consider this situation -- a convicted felon can contest an election, and win it sitting in the jail. Haven't we forgot Shorabuddin ? In the current state of affairs, assuming that a party needs one seat to form a government, there is nothing to stop this convicted felon from supporting that party and even becoming the prime minister ! Is this democracy ? Isn't this a farce ? Why should the prime minster be above law in this case ?

3) A bunch of statements are being thrown around that Anna is blackmailing the elected representatives. Haven't we forgot the times when the parliament was being blackmailed by someone who was not even elected to the parliament ? Have we forgotten Karunanidhi and his blackmailing methods to get the posts that he wanted ? Have we forgotten Jayalalitha who did the same and forced second elections upon us ?

4) Another off repeated statement is that justice will prevail and most corrupt folks are in jail. Agreed they are in jail, but what happened to the money they looted ? Why should the oppressed and suppressed tax payers of this country bear that burden ?

5) It took a Lokayutka to expose the mining lobby and the scam it perpetrated. However, the lack of sufficient teeth to it resulted in Yeddiyurappa appointing his crony into the Chief minister's post. Is that democracy ?

This country has hundreds of honest and hard working bureaucrats. It would need strong laws and a fear of punishment, for them to continue being honest and hard working.

There are times when poison must be administered as an antidote for poison. This is one of those times.

There may be hundreds of folks out there who are against Anna Hazare. But there is no denying the fact that the questions that he has posed are very real and need to be addressed immediately.

As long as we continue to think that the parliament is supreme, or our version of democracy is the best, the lack of powerful laws will ensure that the efforts of hundreds of people to uphold their duties will go down the drain.

The Indian public has let go of a golden opportunity to do something good for itself, by raising dissenting voices against this opportune moment.

But then again, haven't we known all along that the real enemy for us Indians, is our own brethren ?

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 7:33 PM 31 comments

25 April 2011

R.I.P

Sai Baba, who even if his devotees claim to be a re-incarnation, would justifiably be called so, simply on the strength of his various philanthropic schemes.

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 1:37 PM 17 comments

07 March 2011

David vs Goliath

The recent victory by Ireland cricket team over England during the 2011 world cup does result in some introspection.

Firstly, the ICC, and some captains have gone on record that the number of teams competing the world cup must be restricted. I am of the opinion that it should not be the case, and world cup provides the perfect platform and motivation for a large number of countries, where cricket is not a mainstream sport. The achievements in the world cup would only help in a larger set of people taking up the sport, thereby helping the minnows become better.

In a throwback to a few world cup tournaments prior to this one, if India and Sri Lanka were not allowed to participate, we would not have them in the current state that they are today.

It is a different matter that Cricket prospered in India only because the moronic politicians were unable to interfere in the matters of selection, but that is a discussion for a different day.

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 1:41 PM 9 comments

21 February 2011

Alli Thanda Bhoomi

While there are many a songs being listed out as a tribute to Malaysia Vasudevan, my personal favorite is this



Notice the way he uses his own breath to give an extra effect into the song. IMHO, after SPB, he infused life into Illayaraja's songs.

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 10:23 AM 1 comments

04 February 2011

Opening up the weekend

Paying tribute to SPB's recent award, here are some melodies I heard on the radio the other day.

1. Just close your eyes and check out the drums, the rhythms, the percussion, and yes, that golden voice of SPB. Oh yes, you need to close your eyes to avoid seeing Baghyaraj's ugly dance moves.



2. Just check out the way Illayaraja opens this song. That graceful violins, those hums, foot-tapping drums, and yes, SPB !!



Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 9:52 AM 1 comments

24 January 2011

Kai veesum Thamarai

One of those days when I came home early from work and decided to have a small walk around the streets of my house, with the radio plugged into my ears.

The station played this song. I was then taken back to my returning-from-school times, when I distinctly remember this song playing out on the radio. Bliss. Illayaraja is thy name. Check out the way he opens the song, and yes, SPB's sweet voice that caresses the words & our senses.




As a bonus, here is another amazing song that is frequently played on Television. Oh yes, check out that violin interlude at the beginning of the song.

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 5:05 PM 1 comments

18 January 2011

Kaavalan Review - The one in which Illaya-thalapathy roars back to life

Finally ! Illaya-thalapathy Vijay comes back alive. I guess someone did some hard talk with him. All that preachy nonsense, highfalutin approach, un-necessary interference into director's realm, tampering with the story-line, e.t.c., had just one outcome -- a string of flops and thousands of internet memes and jokes.

With Kaavalan, he returns back to doing what he needs to do -- follow orders.

Kaavalan, essentially a remake from a Malayalam movie (I hear that while the base storyline is the same, there have been numerous additions/deletions), is simple and clean storytelling.

Vijay is someone who does not do anything worthwhile with his life. Fed up with this, his parents pack him off to a reformed rowdy, Rajkiran, who was instrumental in helping his mother sail through her childbirth, to serve has his bodyguard.

Rajkiran, decides that he does not have any enemies, and fearing for his daughter Asin's life, packs Vijay off as a bodyguard for his daughter when she goes off to the city for her education.

Asin decides to play a prank on Vijay to make him let-go of his bodyguard costumes, and in general, adopt a take-it-easy attitude. She calls him up and poses as his college mate, who is madly in love with him.

What happens in the end ? Does Asin pair up with Vijay ? How does Vijay vanquish the threat to Asin's life ? All these questions are revealed and much more in simple, and straight forward narration. Watch out for the rather predictable twist in the climax scenes.

Vadivelu is Vijay's side-kick. He provides some outstanding laughs. Notable among those are the "Parvathi Nambiar" joke sequence, and the barging-into-ladies-hostel sequence. As always, his facial expressions and voice modulations are out of the world.

Vijay throws out all the mannerisms and hand-swishing that we have seen in his past few movies, and tries really hard to convey the emotions through his eyes and facial expressions. I must say that he passes muster.

Asin does what is required of her, and so does the actress who appears as her friend.

Background score and songs are by Vidhyasagar. The "step-up" song has some decent rhythm and some nice moves by Vijay.

A must watch, if only to get some relief that Vijay has finally broken free from that dangerous mold that he was getting into.

Welcome back Illaya-Thalapathy Vijay. We did miss you for almost four years, where you thought that just by spewing dialogues loaded with political overtones, and trying to portray an image that you were the all saving messiah, you could be the next super-star. It takes quite a few decent movies and hits like these to get there.

Shyam

Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 2:11 PM 12 comments