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Opening essay 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S T E V E   J O B S

A name that evokes pride, passion, and prestige. Two words that raise scorn, spite and sarcasm. Letters that are equally belittled and adored.

For me, they are a fascination. Hardworking, Enthusiastic, Dramatic and Assuring. Obsessive, Intuitive, Aesthetic and Perfectionist. Steve Jobs was all this and more. He was a romantic like no other.

No one else could have walked into his first board room meeting, on his first day as iCEO, in shorts and sneakers, and proceed to lambast a stunned group of top executives that ‘ the products don’t sell (because) there is no sex in them anymore’.

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Everett Rogers, in his theory – The Diffusion of Innovations, tells that not all innovators are equally influential. Simple knowledge of innovation is never enough to retain influence. Even among innovators, there is a certain sector of highly influential people, who he calls opinion leaders, who take it upon them to spread a positive or negative evaluation of an innovation. And among such opinion leaders, stand a breed of certain individuals, called “Champions”. They take it upon them to stand behind an innovation, and breakthrough any opposition that the innovation may have caused.

In this sense, Steve Jobs is the foremost among champion innovators. Agreed, there have been much earlier innovations, like the Xerox Pointing Device or the UNIX system; which an young Steve directed his friend Woz to imbibe into his model of the modern PC. But what sets Steve apart from other champion innovators – those among his peers and even those before him; was his visionary understanding of the consequences of an innovation.

Steve was the champion who was responsible for thousands of our daily take-it-for-granted specifics to have emerged from the dusty bowels of corporate laborotories and academic libraries. Jay Elliot, former VP of Apple from 1980 to 1986, recounts how impishly excited Steve Jobs was on seeing the mouse at the Xerox PARC. Where the bonafide graduates and proven talents around him could not understand what was so special about the pointing device; Jobs, a college dropout, could see how that very pointing device would ultimately be the cornerstone for a revolution in user interface.

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Indeed, Steve’s foremost gift was his visionary ability. In an era where people have not known that an ‘Age of Computers’ was upon them; Steve could see the trepidation that would come to be borne out of the confines of technological growth, information sprawl and rampant computerization. He advocated emphasis on strong design as an authentic source of aesthetic experience.

On his second coming to Apple in 1997, Jobs defied conventional engineering wisdom, and trashed 38 reasons his engineers came up on why a certain design was practically impossible, and sternly directed them to do his bidding. The result: The iMac.

Come 2003, Jobs would again shun a number of designs intended for an iMac makeover and then call his Chief Designer, Jonathan Ive, for a walk in the sunny lanes around his house. He then told him he wanted the new iMac to look like a sunflower. The result: a flat screen iMac, the first of its kind, which is balanced gracefully on a flexible metal rod, like a sunflower.

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Just like the erstwhile romantics of the 18th century, Jobs elevated revived elements of nature into an industry devoid of  art and beauty. Ideas of absolute originality and artistic inspiration were the forte of the individual genius of the man who willed the creation of seemingly awe-inspiring products from nothingness.

For a man so steadfastly rooted in the present, he exhibited astonishing perception of what the future holds for technological advancements. He did not get plain lucky at the helm of a company, which drew unprecedented success in corporate history. He worked his way to it through sheer conviction and gut wrenching audacity. It would be justified if it can be said that Steve’s greatest achievement during his second coming at Apple was not the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone or the iPad. It was the creation of an organization that mirrored his own simple self.

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Steve’s passion for Apple is now the stuff of legends – the extreme care he took right from the quality of granite floors in his stores to the secretive meetings with industry leaders. But, Steve’s most remarkable achievement at Apple was instilling this passion of his, across the length and breadth of the organization. The chart above (taken from a March issue of Fortune) shows a deceptively straightforward organizational hierarchy. No dotted-lines or matrix-ed responsibilities that have become commonplace in other organizations. Only one person, the chief financial officer, has a responsibility for costs and expenses that lead to profits or losses. The rest think about functions, not products or processes or successes.

It’s a radical example of Steve’s management: Most companies view the Profit & Loss statement as the ultimate credentials of a manager’s accountability; Steve turned that dictum on its head by labeling P&L a distraction only the finance chief needs to consider. The rest of the employees – the management and the engineering – is free to work passionately on his/her own love without the fear of financial obligations affecting them. Steve Jobs, as most people have realized over the years, has his bouts of anger, frightening the living daylights out of anyone he gets pissed off with. But when the brightest minds on the planet are given the extreme freedom and the necessary challenge to passionately drill away on tasks they love to work on, they un-grudgingly tolerate the whims of man who has given them this opportunity and are willingly eager to assist him in his quest for perfection.

Ah, Perfection! That holy grail of artists – past, present and future. Carl Friedrich Gauss, the greatest mathematician in history, had a personal motto - pauca sed matura (“few, but ripe”). Gauss was not simply the greatest mathematician of all, he was an ardent perfectionist and steadfastly passionate about his work. His personal diaries indicate that he had made several important mathematical discoveries years or decades before his contemporaries published them. Historians estimated that, had Gauss published all of his discoveries in a timely manner, he would have advanced mathematics by fifty years. Gauss usually declined to present the intuition behind his often very elegant proofs—he preferred them to appear “out of thin air” and erased all traces of how he discovered them. He justified this by stating that all analysis (i.e., the paths one travelled to reach the solution of a problem) must be suppressed for sake of brevity. If Guass were to meet Jobs, he would realize he had met an equal.

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Steve often spoke about how the most important thing was to say ‘No’ to a number of great innovations and instead concentrate on a select few, an entrepreneurial trait common to startups but not a $320 billion churning corporation. Jobs probably had his own intuition in coming up with the multi-touch gestures or the sunflower style of an iMac, but he never presented them to his audience. He preferred his ideas to materialize “out of thin air” and advocated a simple sense of art to elevate function. A day will probably come, when historians will estimate that, had Jobs taken up a multitude of innovations in a rigorous manner, he would have advanced the digital age by fifty years.

Critics deriding his lack of public philanthropy and his being a non-member of the Giving Pledge advocated by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates forget one important fact. Steve started the Stephen P Jobs Foundation almost a decade before Gates set up his own and two decades before Buffet set up his Giving Pledge. For a person whose apparent non conformist attitude has so often been proven right, I would believe he had his just reasons in shutting down the foundation an year later. Moreover, we need to remember that Steve followed Buddhism which asks to give away alms but not for the sake of giving away alms, nor for the sake of public favor and nor the sake of mercy.

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Throughout his life, Steve’s driving force was his magical love for perfection. It is awe-inspiring to even comprehend how much it meant to him. He never craved money for money’s sake and has never given in to flashy displays of wealth. His biography (to be released in a few days) has an insight on how much Jobs was upset that HP discontinued its TouchPad tablet, because its founders Hewlett and Packard had thought they were leaving the company in safe hands. He took a $1 salary every year from Apple in the capacity of it’s CEO, though his stock options from both Apple and Disney have made him billions of dollars.

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As a kid, he wished to make a dent in the universe with his products and over a successful adult life, achieved it by his sheer will power. And in doing so, Steve has touched billions of people lives in more ways than one. His structuring of products – their design and quality – has redefined entrepreneurship as we know it. He has ushered in an era of romanticism in entrepreneurship where love for the product and an aesthetic sense of portrayal are the catchwords. He has set the golden standard for young entrepreneurs to emulate.

In an Age of Abundance, where the price for every commodity is expected to become more readily accessible as the years roll by, Steve Jobs stands as the flag bearer of the one commodity that will always be treasured and will be even rarer to find – a creative brain with a penchant for perfection and a dash of artistic fervor.

Rolling Stone The Steve Jobs Nobody Knew

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A picture says a thousand words. And a hundred words can surely suffice a major distortion or in this case, an extreme hyperbole.

Mark my words, Maradona was, is and will be regarded by people all over the world as the greatest footballer to have ever dribbled anything that remotely looked like a sphere (from footballs to golf balls). In an age when media was yet to make its forays into creating the best footballer of all time every 5 years, amongst teams that have hardly any other player worth remembering, and at the world’s biggest stages, Maradona was unsurpassed. He was the exemplaire par excellence.

“Maradona didn’t invent the art of dribbling but he took it to its highest level. Then, once inside the penalty area, he didn’t like to wallop his shots at goal. His art was more subtle. He would stick out his toe and poke the ball into the corner. Or he would chip the shot like a golfer playing a sand-wedge, always in control of the ball. Even in the last World Cup, when he had metamorphosed into the role of Argentina’s manager, he could be seen on the training ground curling free-kick after free-kick into the top corner – using a ball that the players half his age would come to detest because they could not control its trajectory.

At his pomp, it was a form of torture for opponents. The showman Maradona would look one way and play the ball the other. Every playground show-off can do the tricks these days, the keepie-ups and the juggling – but Maradona invented half the moves. He would do it sitting down or on his back. Or doing press-ups. He did it with a tennis ball. Or an apple. You’d have trusted him with an egg.”

This photograph shown above is considered by many (and that includes yours truly) to be the most iconic photograph in the history of football. It shows Maradona in the 1982 Argentina vs Belgium World Cup match. It shows the power that a magician exerts over mere mortals.

Watch the photograph again – “Diego Maradona with the ball at his feet, confronting, teasing, mesmerising, bewitching, persecuting the Belgian side in the 1982 World Cup finals. There is one of him, and six of them. But they don’t know whether to move forward, stay where they are or retreat. The ball is on Maradona’s left boot. Diego Armando Maradona. The God of Football”

Understand it – ” From a tactical point of view, the number six, Franky Vercauteren, is looking to track back and support his full back. From his position he’s trying to steer Maradona down the line and prevent him from coming aside and hurting them. It is also possible to justify the position of the the number 10 Ludo Coeck, who is cutting off a route inside for Maradona. After that it is quite clear that tactics, formation and indeed common sense have gone out the window, they’ve all been replaced with the blind fear that only the great players can inspire in an opposition team. At the point this photo was taken fifty percent of the Argentinian side were umarked in vast tracts of the Nou Camp, ready to take full advantage of the situation created by the simpe presence of Maradona.”

Engulf yourselves in the sheer genius of the man just as I had been over the last couple of years.

Two nights to the day before I am putting this words down, I was frantically binging and trying to download a hi-resolution copy of this photograph as I proceeded to explain a friend how and why this photograph is poetry to the eyes of the football fan.

Having said that though, as I stayed up late yesterday night, it suddenly dawned upon me, there must have been a video of this iconic match. And then, I found it on youtube. As I began to avidly play the whole highlights of the match with the sheer anticipation that I might be able to catch a glimpse of the iconic moment, something caught me unawares.

Watch the video below from 1:15 on. Notice the freekick. The ball was laid off to Maradona instead of being taken for a scoring or assisting shot. And the wall was just reacting to the play.

As I replayed that part of the video again, I was flabber stuck. This was it. Wrongly phrased. Is this it. Is this what the picture had been showing us all along. Is this more a case of the right photograph at the right angle at the right moment and not the moment of genius that we have all been made to believe for so long.

It was calamity. It was catastrophe. It was the apocalypse itself. How could it have been thus? The Belgian defenders who had been seemingly bewitched by the sheer presence of the man were actually reacting to the play and breaking up the wall.

Maradona remains God. The photograph still is iconic. But somewhere, deep with in, I am still trying to reconcile myself to the fact that such a insipid play has been the truth behind such an iconic picture.

Today was frustrating. My OS crashed out and all the 3 pages of my paper due today evening, and on which I had been working on since the last 3 hours went kaput. As I resigned to that feeling of betrayal and deception, I was seeking to vent my annoyance with someone, and I stumbled upon dhruv.blog, who incidentally was equally frustrated with his own browser and OS crashes. Ah, the hackneyed satisfaction that permeates through that deranged head of mine, when I meet someone equally deranged. Whoa!! I am not alone.

As we sat along rambling about OS’s, servers, downtime, virtualization, redundancy and crashes (wherein we concluded that 5 minutes and 15 and a half seconds of downtime per sever per year is perfectly acceptable), we moved on to more pressing concerns about how religion has grown to influence the way we think about operating systems. We managed to pull up some interesting findings which I bet everyone out there would agree to.

Windows is like our present day Hinduism. Passive. Dormant. Has a big clout of followers. Every version of Windows comes packaged with its own version of ‘karma’. You need to accept what has been ordained upon you as fate. You do not question its capabilities and learn to live with its idiosyncrasies. When shit happens, it happens to you for a reason (though more often than not, you do not know the reason). You need to work around it and move on with life. The numbers of its followers are overwhelmingly large, and in reality, show no signs of slowing down while theologists (or your next-tab-blogger) ring in one warning bell after another.

Mac OS is for your devout catholic. It is counter reformist, believing in its own rules and regulations. Either you live with the decrees of his holiness, the apostolic see – Pope Jobs himself, who apart from canonizing his best gadgets with an i-hood (akin to the catholic sainthood and thus providing them with eternal veneration) also manages to consecrate his whims and fancies onto his ever-faithful fanboy crowd from atop the holy city of Palo Alto; or you can, well, live a life devoid of the stunning architecture (from the gorgeous cathedrals called iMac to the basilicas of the magic mouse) it has built over the years, and the sumptuous ‘i’cons which have graced it since a long time.

Linux is your modern day atheist. Charming when new on the horizon, but ultimately left behind in the defunct labs of the naysayers. The absence of God (or a supreme leader) has hit it really hard, and its misgivings can be attributed to the lack of a strong leadership. Often relying on the end user’s intelligence to see it through, its stance on every consumer coming up with his own solution, within his own moral standards and as per the demands of the situation; has not quite clicked with poor souls who have grown used to a sovereign guide to lead the way unto salvation.

Finally, DOS. Ah, the OS which refuses to die away. And upon which variations and variations are built – both skillfully marketed and inconspicuously thrashed, some that cater to a certain niche while a few whose application I never really managed to figure out. Has anyone of you ever walked upon a true Protestant? I never knew what is the ‘real DOS’ or who is a ‘true Protestant’. I only know that there is a MS DOS, IBM DOS, an Atari DOS, et cetera et cetera. Boy, there was an Apple DOS as well once upon a time. Every street I turn into has either a Lutheran church, a Methodist chapel, a Presbyterian parish, and I remember seeing a Calvinist temple as well; But I never really saw a Protestant church. If Luther were to return today, he would champion the cause of DOS – with its free interpretation of standards and user defined hermeneutics – as the rightful means of every corporation to attain technical salvation.

 

Winners write stories. Period.

The story: A retelling of the Ramayana, from a personal perspective. The Ramayana is, as everyone knows, the story of Rama. What people do not know is that the Ramayana, as we know it, is a brilliant piece of writing that showcases Aryan Chauvinism. Forgive me for the blasphemy, but I think Rama was just another human – maybe highly principled, maybe a role model for the ages. But it was Aryan Chauvinism that made him a God.

The Hero: Rama is worshipped as a God all through India. But every philosophical discourse I heard of him, speaks of Rama as a human being. A human being, they say, who rose to become a god by his strict adherence to morals and duties, and by the pursuit of which, every human in the world can also lead a glorious life. While listening to those scriptures, I usually wondered what were the traits that made Rama a human?

They say Rama is ‘the model son’. A son who never went against his fathers words. A son who forsake his kingdom to heed to his father. But I beg to differ. I always wondered how could a ‘God’ forget about the millions of subjects looking up towards him, and get going with his own personal endeavors. Is not duty towards nation and followers of more superior priority than personal pursuits? Is that not what we are taught as a child? To put country before anything else?

What was so luminous about a person who could not stop his brother from humiliating a woman, however bad she was? What was so noble about a person who criticizes his brother for abandoning his wife? What was so divine about a person who loses his wife to trickery? What kind of leader was he, who having tested his wife by fire, again fail to stand on his actions and exile her?

The Villain: Ravana was a Dravidian. He was a leader-exemplaire. He commanded legions and won over the Gods themselves. He was the Hindu mythology’s very own Kratos, conceived ages before Kratos emerged from Sony Corp. It is also universally agreed that he was above all, a devout brahmin, did unreasonable penances, and earned favor from the Gods themselves. He erected temples (very unlike for a Rakshasa), and people loved him for his just rule. (Courtesy of NTR’s Daksha Yagnam). Ravana has temples in most parts of India, including Rajasthan and Kakinada, and is worshipped regulary in parts of Tamil Nadu and Thailand as well.

He was a womanizer, as Aryans have written him to be. He lusted for Sita. He forced himself on Rambha, the wife of Nalakubera, who cursed him that his head would burst if he forces himself against any woman again. This curse, they say, is the reason why Raavan kept away from Sita for 14 years.

But the Dravidians had a different take about Ravana. Ravana was no womanizer. He abducted Sita because he believed in a tit-for-tat justice. What protector was he, he who could not protect his own sister? He never forced himself upon her because he held his honor above his lust. Definitely, a man who was as well versed as Ravana was in the Shastras and the Vedas (his 10 heads signify the thoughts as per 6 darshana sastras and 4 vedas) knows the value of honor and morality.

My Take on the Ramayana: Winners write stories. The story of Rama and his noble-ness had been written and chanted over and over by Aryan fanatics, who have derided Ravana into an amoral beast, more so to potray Rama as the benevolent of men. I am a staunch Vaishnavite at heart. But in my mind, I always believed that the Dravidian version of Rama, Ravana and the Ramayana; was more real.

The film: It is by no means a masterpiece in Indian Cinema. It has its flaws. Dragged in certain parts in the first half. The whole Priyamani episode was stale. In a film that is supposed to redefine a preset perception of God and demons, I wonder why Maniratnam put in an such a used-and-thrashed scenario for the hero trying to justify the abduction of the heroine.

Abhishek was bad. He was miscast. I would have preferred to see Vikram and Abhishek exchange roles. Other characters were brilliantly etched; the heroine manages to draw some fine line between a Stockholm syndrome patient and a normal Indian wife.

Technically, it is a brilliant film. I don’t remember seeing such well-lit scenes in continuous rain in recent years all through out the movie. Plenty has been written about its awesome Cinematography.

The music was good, but it was not in tune with my perception. A film with such Dravidian ethnics embedded should have been made with heavy reliance on Carnatic Music, with more preference to the vocals. Definitely, A.R.Rahman is no Illayaraja.

The Director: Mani Ratnam was a different kind of director when he came into Indian Cinema. He started off with offbeat love stories, subjects that were never treaded into before. The 1980’s were his establishment years. Films like Mouna Ragam, Geethanjali revolutionized cinema. Come the 1990’s, Ratnam forayed more into contemporary subjects, Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, etc.

His penchant for portrayal of biographies was evident from his occasional biopics – Iruvar, Nayagan and Guru standing as a prime example. While Dalapathi was his take on Mahabharatha, he strictly adhered to conformed norms, never violating any preconceived notions of good and bad. His sense of Dravidian ethnocentricity was visible in his rendering of Amrutha. He has confined himself to making biopics of late – the kind of biopics which carefully tread about in a non controversial manner, films that meandered slowly to satisfy the egos of a diverse nation. Which masterful story maker would have wanted to compromise over and over again?

Is a film titled “Raavan” wrong to glorify the demon king? And in what better a way than to project a story with his own strong Dravidian ethnic roots? There is a dialog in Raavan that goes something like – “Jealousy is what made me powerful than him. Jealousy is the qualification of a select few.” How true? Without jealousy for achievement, I am pretty sure few men reach the heights they attain.

Raavan is overall a beautiful mise-en-scène. But it is no masterpiece from Maniratnam. For losing with critics and audiences alike, this film will not be remembered even among his better films. What it remains, is being Maniratnam’s first adaptation which stays completely original. With this film, Maniratnam has dared to go where only few directors in world cinema had ventured into. He challenges you into entering his own world devoid of your prejudices and preconceived notions. His world is hazy, but looks beautiful. It maybe weird to most, but inspired to atleast a few. Unblemished in its vices, disregardful of controversy and more importantly, for its fluent expression of creativity (blasphemous though it is for most), this film truly marks Maniratnam’s coming of age.

Make no mistake. James Cameron’s Avatar is the greatest spectacle seen since Star Wars. And notice that, for me, Star Wars is the greatest movie from Hollywood. Not the Godfather. Not Ben-Hur. Not LOTR. And Avatar presents the grandest technological cinematic experience the world has ever come to see. And is that not what Hollywood is all about. Technical virtuosity. A straightforward story. All within the confines of an ethereal narration.

But where Avatar moves ahead of LOTR and other modern day spectacles is through it’s humane touch. With due respects to the friendship between Frodo and Sam, LOTR for all its magnificent ambiances and creative backdrop, simply lacks the human connection. With Avatar, you connect with the story. You feel for what humans do everyday with the world. You empathize with the Na’vi while constantly feeling the pangs to be in a green world just like them. You wish you had places like Pandora on earth. The only problem with Avatar is that Sam Worthington is no Harrison Ford. There is no Luke Skywalker to sympathize, no charming Hans Solo for us to love and most importantly, no Darth Vader. And that’s where the bad points are wrapped up. There is probably no character in Avatar that is as beautiful as Pandora, no character as mysterious as Pandora.

Pandora makes up for all of Avatar’s flaws. I remember watching The Empire Strikes Back as a kid. With the lasers flying around the Empire’s AT-AT droids, I sat with my mouth wide open as I listened to my cousin telling me all about lasers. The best things in Pandora comes not with the 3-D (which refreshingly never tried to make a conscious 3-D viewing approach to the audience). It comes with James Cameron’s choice of a multitude of fluorescent colors that light up Pandora’s night life. As I watched the metamorphosis of colors with each frame that goes by, I found myself staring with the same open-mouth expression, soaking up the film’s music theme. Where Lucas charms us with his modern-for-that-time laser technology and space shuttles, James Cameron’s breaks into the primitive shell from human history, when Man walked together with Nature with profound respect for its intricacies and a sense for appreciating the aesthetic beauty around him. Cameron probably knew this would come to be, he saved the best music for the scenes where Jake Sulley connects with Pandora.

The story is simple. Avatar never tries to preach, but it does certainly have a message. The acting was adequate. Sigourney Weaver tries her best to recreate the magic of Ellen Ripley with a moderate amount of success. The 3D is so beautiful, especially the scenes on the dragons, and at the same time, remains inconspicuous with its presence. Avatar never goes overboard. There is probably not even a single frame that was unnecessarily edited into the theatrical cut. It does not make you wait for the Blu-ray DVD to come out, because you know you never will be watching that in 3D. Avatar has awesomeness screaming all over it. Having the best seats in an IMAX certainly helped matters. Go, Watch it. You will be doing yourselves a great favor.

History Revisited : The Scrolls of the Screamer

“ Me and Spidy have an unenviable history going to the cinemas together.

Right from our college days at Nalanda, I always got the tickets for every movie we planned – first day first show – and we always went to every film together whenever possible.

I was a huge fan of Nagarjuna those days… Of course, I still am… And it was inevitable we saw every movie of his… Nag was on a roll those days… He got a super hit with Nuvvu Vastavani after it generated a lot of negative talk initially… He was the USP for Ninne Premistha… and his Azad was critically acclaimed…

With huge expectations, we went to his next film, Eduruleni Manishi… It flopped miserably… Next came Bavanachadu… Utter flop… Akasaveedilo, another dud followed… He guest starred in Adhipathi which sank and though he salvaged some pride for his fans with his performance in Snehamante Idera, it was declared a box office disaster…

It was clear having me and Spidy on a first day audience was like getting into a Waterloo for any movie… Movies sank without a trace…

Spidy decided enough was enough… Victory Venki was on a streak of 15 commercial hits and we decided to watch his next film first day first show… And we choose Prematho… Ra!!!… Am pretty sure, Venki still wonders why that movie was such a colossal flop… He does not know that an iron leg pair went to Apsara Theater bunking college to make sure of that…

Lady luck always gave us tough deals… We had the tickets for two films for one Pongal season… We chose Takkari Donga to Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu

Enough is Enough… We decided we need to break the pair up and go to every film individually… Spidy went to Nuvvu Naaku Nachav and I went to Santosham… Both were great films… We went to Narasimha Naidu on different days, and it turned to be a blockbuster…

We were flabbergasted… Are we together as a pair so ill-fated…? We decided to check it out one last time and watched Allari Ramudu together :(

That was when we decided we will never watch another film together on the first day of its release.

Ravi G, dated 18th May 2004“

September 19th, 2009: A tale of two friends

Spidy: It is been long since I went to any movie. Let us watch one today.

Keka: Me too…  There is an IMAX nearby… lets watch whatever movie is being screened.

S (checks the listings): Cloudy with a chance of meatballs, Do we need to watch this now?

K: Come on keker… IMAX 3D rocks, I say…

* * *

The trailer for Alice in Wonderland is previewed.

S: God. This has to be the most awesome trailer I have seen in a long long time. If Tim Burton and Johnny Depp can conjure something so beautiful in IMAX 3D, I wonder what James Cameroon has up his sleeve with his Avatar

K: Come on Keker… IMAX 3D rocks, I say…

* * *

Tring… Tring…

S: Bloody Bluetooth… WTF? For how much time was I asleep?

K: Long time Keker… You were snoring also…

S: Then why the fuck did you not wake me up?

K: Come on Keker… You drove for 9 hours today… and it is enough that I am being tortured… So, I let you sleep…

S: Okay. Wake me up when the movie ends.

* * *

K: Keker wake up… Lets leave fast.. If we stay for some more time, people will come and beat you up for snoring…

S gets up hurriedly. His bluetooth falls out from his ear.

S: Shit… My blue tooth fell down…

K and S start searching for it. They use their phones as torch lights but to no avail.

S: Bloody hell… This movie is the worst movie I have seen in  my life… And now I lost my bluetooth…

K: Keker… You forgot… This movie released today… and we both are watching it together… So, it obviously is going to be a dud… Come on… Lets watch the titles roll by…

S: Holy Cow… Why the fuck did you not tell me this was released today… You bloody ass… I would never have come to this film…

K: Come on Keker… Watch the titles roll by… Even the titles are in 3D… IMAX 3D, rocks, I say…

S: I have to watch this stupid film till the end of the titles so that I can search better… This is like having a <dash> on a <dash>

K: It is enevitable, Keker… We both came together to this film, right ?

S: <censored>

* * *

After the titles are over. The search resumes with the cell phones. K goes and requests the maintenance crew for a torch. The bluetooth is nowhere to be found. K goes and asks the management to switch on the flood lights. Finally they find the bluetooth after rummaging through crushed popcorn and  spilled nacho cheese after 15 minutes.

Colophon:

Before imagining all sort of profanity in filling up the blanks, I must warn you, I used no profanity in there. Although what I said was rather gross, I felt it was justified considering the personal emotion suppressed inside me.

It was as they say, the diarrhea icing on the shit cake.

FOB’s, YAP’s and TAB’s. There are a lot of jokes on them, degrading ones at that, floating around the American fraternity, time and again. I have been part of a vehement opposition to FOB jokes on newbie’s but just cannot help laughing out on some of the most ridiculous ones.

* * * * *

I remember Shrek telling me of one incident he saw at his university’s Public Safety Department. The lady behind the glass asked the newbie, “May I have your local address, Sir.”

The first criterion that differentiates a SuperFOB from a FOB is the reluctance of the SuperFOB to accept his knowledge of English as minimal and probably, as is the wont in most cases, assume his command of English as next only to John Milton.

                                         

So, this particular newbie somehow figured out that she was asking him about the local dress (address) used back home and what followed was a ridiculously hilarious dialogue.

FOB: Nowadays, people just use a pant and a shirt.

Public Safety Employee: I asked what would your local address is, Sir.

FOB: Yeah. We just use trousers and shirts. Even the girls have started to use them of late.

Public Safety: Sir, Please tell me what your local address is.

FOB: The local dress… You mean… Well, the villagers still wear kurtas and pyjamas, but they are almost like the trousers which we use here.

Public Safety: I do not understand what you are saying. I just wanted to know what the local address of yours is.

FOB: Yeah… the correct term for our local dress would be laalchi-pyjama…

And before he could tell more, Shrek stepped in and stopped the mayhem. A visibly exasperated public safety staff could only be amused at the stupidity of the FOB.

* * * * *

                                                           

On a recent trip to Chicago, Tom provided us with one of the biggest FOB goof-ups I have heard in recent times.

We were driving towards the John Hancock Tower and we saw the below traffic sign beside the road.

Me: Shrek, Drive carefully. They have a red light photo enforced sign.

Tom: You ass. There is the ‘Green Light Photo Enforced’ sign so clearly. Have your eyes checked.

Me: (to myself) Green ??? I am sure I saw Red in there.

At the next traffic signals, before I could say anything,

Tom: Look there. How clearly it is written Green Light Photo Enforced.

Me: What the heck? Where does it say Green?

Tom: Are your eyes fucked up? It so clearly says green.

                                                                     

At the next traffic lights, we literally stopped the car beside the road and asked Tom, where he could see Green Light mentioned on the sign.

Tom: You bloody idiots. Can’t you see that big green circle just to the left of the photo. What does it mean? Not a green light… Huh???

I could not help but use the choicest of abuses to tell him that according to him, the sign board should be read as – “Red Red Yellow Light Green Photo Enforced.”                                                          

We laughed all our way to the tower and when we were returning pointed out to him – “Hey Tom, there goes your Green Light Photo Enforced.”

And Tom in all his innocence, muttered, “I wonder what’s wrong with you assholes, I still don’t understand why you are making fun of me when it so clearly mentions Green Light Photo Enforced.”

* * * * *

Irrespective of what you think of the above incidents, this one takes the cake. And how.

                                                                 

One of my friends took his junior, a FOB, to Panda Express.

The newbie ordered some Orange chicken and look at his reply, when the lady behind the counter asked him – “For Here or To Go Sir.”

SuperFOB: I am here for my Masters but I want to go back to India.

* * * * *

God save the FOB’s.

If you are not drunk and if you are not being psyched up by other passengers in the car, but still like to go fast, weave across the lanes or startle the old man driving in front of you, you inadvertently must be a crazy bum to get a ticket in the first place.

That’s all right. There are definitely a number of crazy bums out there. But the universe must be conspiring against you, probably the result of a planetary alignment that occurs only once in 8.2×10^46 years, when Mr. Policeman decides to give you a ticket and conveniently forgets to put the name of the court or the phone number of the clerk on the backside.

Yet, in this age of the Internet, you still have got the resources to pull up where to pay the citation and how to pay it up. Oh crap! Wait buddy… Did you not forget that the universe was conspiring against you. Now, this planetary alignment tends not to just have a gravitational imbalance on the tides at sea but the gray matter in your head that you decide you will let things be and not hurry about them. Afterall, you are born in India, where you believe in the karmic sentiments of the soul within you and let things take their own course.

So, you do not pay the fine and wait to be served notices or summons or whatsoever. Afterall, you need to show the Americans what the karmic philosophy of the Indian is.

So, finally you get a notice saying that your license will be revoked in 20 days from the date of notice if you do not pay up in the meantime. And heavens (Alrightyyy, there are not in the alignment any more), that notice was served 25 days back.

So, you sit with the ticket in your left hand, the notice in your right, wondering in that head of yours what would have happened if you had dealt matters the usual desi way and payed up immediately after the trip. But hey, I ( yes, it was my own experience, how else did you think I would not everything in such excruciatingly intricate detail) am gratified at the prospect of being the first desi among all I know who had their license revoked for not paying the fine on the citation – the true indian way. 

Thanks to Lord Venkateswera of Pittsburg. Mera Bharat Mahaan.

Have been busy putting everything together for Tarun’s new blog. It is done and dusted now. Do give it a glance @ http://blog.mywhitelotus.com/

Tarun’s work is nothing short of incredible. Nothing more to say on that. Madhumita’s article on MyWhiteLotus, where she says “a board room meeting with suited professionals is nothing compared to the task of getting 40 kids interested in work” got me thinking. I was dejected at my own frailties to embrace the challenge. To pitch it up honestly, I feel more motivated to take up the challenge rather than pursuing and seeking social-profit assignments myself.

I loved the name – My White Lotus – a lot. The Lotus is an endemic part of the Buddhist Ashtamangala – the eight sacred symbols.

According to Buddhism, the lotus flower (Sanskrit: Padma), representing ‘primordial purity’ of body, speech, and mind, floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire; represents the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation.

The other seven symbols of the Buddhist Ashtamangala are the white conch, the infinite knot, the pair of golden fish,  the sacred umbrella, the treasure vase, the dharmachakra and the banner of victory.

One other thing that drove me towards the name – My White Lotus – is the fact Goddess Saraswathi, the presiding deity of knowledge and education, is often associated with a white lotus.

For starters, Goddess Saraswathi is always seated on the white lotus, Goddess Lakshmi has a pink lotus beneath her, while Goddess Parvati ( and her many manifestations including Goddess Durga and Goddess Kali) are usually associated with a blue (indigo) lotus. Tut-tut, there is your fact of the day.

I remember the first time I was asked to start a blog. I had just passed around an email about the adventures of my best friend with his car. Well, they were not adventures in the archetypal sense of the word, but they still mounted to adventures, slightly skewed towards the Don Quixote specimens. As is inevitable, that email I sent out evoked some good laughs and a suggestion that I start blogging. I think it is rightly just that I share that particular email in the opening posts of my blog.

===

Prologue:

Keka buys a new car. A 1993 Infinity J30. His wallet is lighter by a 1000 dollars. It was against the wishes of his friend who advised him not to buy it in haste. But Keka is so dumb-struck by the beauty of the car and its engine, he remarks he would give more than a 1000 bucks to own it.

===

The Main Story:

Keka drives it, his car, the first day. He finds something leaking from the engine. The mechanic diagnoses it as coolant leakage. Says it will cost 900 dollars. Keka is shocked. Says he will thrash the car rather than pay another 900 dollars. Takes it to another mechanic who fixes things for cheap and gets it done for 300 dollars.

Next day, he schedules a driving test for his license. On the day of the driving test, he finds his car would not start. He kicks the car, borrows another car from one of his friends, and gets his license.

Mechanic comes the next day, jump starts the car, takes it to his garage, says the battery needs to be replaced and replaces the battery. Keka pays a 100 dollars, comes out of the garage, takes the first turn and oops… the FICAS indicator light (Power Steering Liquid low) comes on. He takes a U-turn, goes back to the garage he just came out from, has the mechanic pour some fluid in, which makes the light turn OFF. Keka comes out, takes the same turn, the indicator light comes on again and he takes the U-turn again, goes to mechanic, who says it is a sensor fault.

Keka goes home and leaves for university. He is returning from university and car stops in middle of road. It would not start, however hard he tries and Keka pays 60 dollars to take it home.

===

The Dialogs between Keka(K) and Spidy(S) during the story:

S: I told you not to buy that car, You said you can buy it just for the look of the engine.

K: What to do? I am putting every penny now just for the engine to work

K: This fucking car is driving me crazy. It is going to the mechanic garage more times than it is coming to my home.

K: For some reason, I am able to park the car more appropriately at the mechanic place than at the parking outside my home.

S: Keka, when are you going to send me SLR pictures of your car?

K: By the time, I get the SLR to my car, It will go to another mechanic garage.

K: (to roomies): Come on guys, let us go for a ride.

Roomies: Why? Do you want us to push your car back to our home.

K: (to roommate): Let us go and get some groceries.

Roommate: Yeah. Let me get my cycle.

K: I got my car, no ?

Roommate: Yeah. That’s why I am getting my cycle. In case, I need to give you a lift.

K is in his car going to grocery.

Roommate is beside him, on his cycle, singing, "Paatha samanulu ammutam… Inapa samanulu ammutam"

K: Chee… naa jeevitam… Evadaina car driving nerchukunnaka repairs gurinchi telusukuntaadu… Nenu repairs gurinchi telusukunnaka driving nerchukuntunna…

S: Keka, you loved the engine’s look and bought the car just for it, right ?

K: Em chestam, ippudu paina dabba thappa mottam engine marchalsi vachetattu undi.

K (1 Week back): Spidy… 1000 dollars car… 1 month lo deeni neechamga tokkuthaa… janalu bayapadali…

Now: Spidy… 1 week lo idi nannu intha neechamga adukuntundi… nannu bayapedatandi inkenta karchupettalo ani…

K: (1 week back): Come on keker… I will sell this car off to some one for another 1000 bucks… Or atleast 900 bucks, i say…

(now): Please ra babu… nene oka 200 dollars istanu… deeni junk cheseyandi… nenu deenii torture barinchalekapotanna

Keka’s car is in middle of road… stalled…

Police: Sir, Why have you stopped your car in the middle of the road. And you should have your parking lights on when you park during the nights.

K: Well officer, Even I want to have my parking lights on but my battery is dead.

S: Keker.. Let me write a short story about you and your car. I want to fuck this car…

K: Please fuck me also… I deserve to be fucked…

S: What Keka…??? You woke me up in the middle of my sleep…

K: Spidy… Spidy… My brakes fell off…

S: What the ??? What do you mean by brakes falling off?

K; Well, the brakes were screeching whenever I applied them. So, I drove my car onto a highway and braked at high speed. Immediately, the brakes on the right fell off.

S: fell off??? As in, they fell on the road.

K: Exactly… You are a fundooo.

S: What are you doing now? Did you call AAA?

K: Yes, I did. Looks like he just came.

S: Great…

AAA guy: (after getting done with the formalities): So, what do we have here…

K: My brake just fell off…

AAA: What ???

K: My brake just fell off…

AAA: What do you mean by brake falling off…??? I have not heard of anything such in my lifetime.

(A few minutes pass…)

K: The AAA guy is trying to secure my car to the towing truck. He is inside my car. Trying to change the angle of parking so that he can easily pull it onto the tow truck…. Holyyyy… What is this? Now even my left brake has fallen off… The car is sliding down the highway…

S: :O

K: The AAA guy has jumped out of the car… He is putting some stones behind the car and stopping it…

AAA guy: Jesus just saved me… I never guessed that the other brake would fall off because i applied brakes while trying to get the car into a more appropriate position…

K: Spidy… I am back once again in the garage…

S: Why? What happened?

K; The power steering fluid tank burst…

S: burst? What do you mean by Burst?

K: I mean… it blew up…

S; How can it blow up?

K: I do not know… My steering stopped rotating in the middle of the road… So, I got it towed to the garage and even the mechanic is shocked that the tank is blown… Even he is not able to understand how the power steering tank has burst…

====

That, my friends, is the story of my friend and his Infiniti.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Will this car ever have a cure-all?

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