My Actual Blog

<< February 2018 >>
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 01 02 03
04 05 06 07 08 09 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28

Contact Me

If you want to be updated on this weblog Enter your email here:

rss feed

Aug 31, 2005
Book List - I

This is my book list (marked I, II and II). The total is 252. Almost all of these are ebooks. The books marked * are hard copies. The ones marked ** are both. I haven't specified the formats of the ebooks (.lit, .doc, .txt, .html, .pdf) but since there are softwares available to convert all of these from one to another that is hardly an issue. If you want any of these mail me/ leave a message here in the comment box, and I'll mail it to you as soon as time and my internet connection permit.

Book Author
Winnie The Pooh A A Milne
Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler
Made In Japan * Akio Morita
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Crome Yellow Aldous Huxley
The Beach Alex Garland
A Double Life * Alyque Padamsee
The Joy Luck Club ** Amy Tan
Interview With The Vampire Anne Rice
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
Pornucopia Anthony Piers
2001-A Space Odyssey (and about 25 other novels) Arthur C Clarke
God of Small Things * Arundhati Roy
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
My Life  Bill Clinton
Bush At War Bob Woodward
Breaking The Da Vinci Code  Bock Darrell
American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis
The Kingmaker Brian Haig
The Chronicles Of Narnia (parts 1-7) (and a few other novels) C S Lewis
Contact Carl Sagan
Cold Mountain ** Charles Frazier
Five Point Someone * Chetan Bhagat
A People's History of The World * Chris Harman
Eragon Christopher Paolini
Choke Chuck Palahniuk
Diary Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk
Guts Chuck Palahniuk
Survivor Chuck Palahniuk
Angels & Demons Dan Brown
Deception Point Dan Brown
Digital Fortress Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
Moll Flanders Daniel Defoe
Night Of The Seventh Darkness Daniel Easterman
Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events (parts 1-11 incomplete)  Daniel Handler
The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man Dashiell Hammett
The Naked Ape Desmond Morris
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Douglas Adams
Last Chance To See Douglas Adams
Salmon Of Doubt Douglas Adams
Starship Titanic Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (and its sequels) Douglas Adams
The Long Dark Tea-time Of The Soul Douglas Adams
The Meaning Of Liff Douglas Adams
A Room With A View E M Forster
Howard's End E M Forster
Where Angels Fear To Tread E M Forster
Artemis Fowl Eoin Colfer
Tender Is The Night F Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald
Dune (parts 1-8) Frank Herbert (and Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson)
Thus Spake Zarathustra Friedrich Nietzsche
The Tao Of Physics Fritjof Capra
Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years Of Solitude * Gabriel Garcia Marquez
1984 George Orwell
Animal farm George Orwell
Down And Out In London And Paris George Orwell
Shooting An Elephant George Orwell
Business Maharajas * Gita Piramal
Tin Drum Gunter Grass
Lady Chatterley's Lover Gustav Flaubert
To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
Bridget Jones's Diary Helen Fielding
Song Of The Silent Snow Hubert Selby
Dragon Strike * Humphrey Hawksley
The Everest Hotel * I Allan Sealy
The Trotter Nama * I Allan Sealy
The Rule of Four Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
The Hildebrand Rarity Ian Fleming
I Robot Isaac Asimov
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets J K Rowling
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire J K Rowling
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince J K Rowling
Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix J K Rowling
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban J K Rowling
Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone J K Rowling
Parma Endorion J R R Tolkien
Sir Gawain and The Green Knight J R R Tolkien
The Lord of The Rings J R R Tolkien
The Silmarillion J R R Tolkien
Unfinished Tales J R R Tolkien
On The Road Jack Kerouac
The Call Of The Wild Jack London
Shogun James Clavell
From Here To Eternity James Jones
The Thin Red Line James Jones
Ulysses James Joyce
A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man * James Joyce
The Discovery of India * Jawaharlal Nehru
Faust Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The Mothman Prophecies John A Keel
Vernon God Little John DBC Pierre
India : A History * John Keay
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
Of Mice And Men John Steinbeck
The Grapes Of Wrath John Steinbeck
Mark Of Zorro Johnston McCulley
Into Thin Air Jon Krakauer
In The Year 2889 Jules Verne
Ticket No 9672 Jules Verne

Posted at 12:22 am by Arnav
Comments (16)

Book List - II

The Prophet Kahlil Gibran
Of No Fixed Address * Kaizad Gustad
Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro
A Place Called Freedom Ken Follett
Dangerous Fortune Ken Follett
Eye Of The Needle Ken Follett
Jackdaws Ken Follett
The Third Twin Ken Follett
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Ken Kasey
The Wind In The Willows Kenneth Graham
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Kevin J Anderson
Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow Kevin J Anderson
Truth, Love and A Little Malice * Khushwant Singh
Delhi : A Novel * Khushwant Singh
Bagombo Snuff Box Kurt Vonnegut
Bluebeard Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle Kurt Vonnegut
Galapagos Kurt Vonnegut
God Bless You Dr Kevorkian Kurt Vonnegut
God Bless You Mr Rosewater Kurt Vonnegut
Happy Birthday Wanda June Kurt Vonnegut
Harrison Bergeron Kurt Vonnegut
Hocus Pocus Kurt Vonnegut
Jailbird Kurt Vonnegut
Long Walk To Forever Kurt Vonnegut
Mother Night Kurt Vonnegut
Player Piano Kurt Vonnegut
The Sirens Of Titan Kurt Vonnegut
Timequake Kurt Vonnegut
Battlefield Earth L R Hubbard
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
Relic Lincoln Child and Douglas J Preston
Maharanis * Lucy Moore
India's Bandit Queen * Mala Sen
The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood
The Bear Trap - Afghanistan's Untold Story Mark Adkin and Mohammad Yousaf
Black Hawk Down Mark Bowden
Dante Club Matthew Pearl
Congo Michael Crichton
Disclosure Michael Crichton
State of Fear Michael Crichton
The Great Train Robbery Michael Crichton
Secrets Of A Secret Society Michael Moore
Stupid White Men Michael Moore
The English Patient Michael Ondaatje
The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Albom
My Experiments With Truth Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Annabelle Lee N J Walters
A Study In Emerald Neil Gaiman
American Gods Neil Gaiman
Don't Panic Neil Gaiman
Dream Hunter Neil Gaiman
Feeders And Eaters Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere Neil Gaiman
Pages From A Journal Neil Gaiman
Snow, Glass, Apples Neil Gaiman
Stardust Neil Gaiman
Good Omens Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Keeping The Rabble In Line Noam Chomsky
Secrets, Lies and Democracy Noam Chomsky
The Prosperous Few and The Restless Many Noam Chomsky
What Uncle Sam Really Wants Noam Chomsky
Year 501, The Conquest Continues Noam Chomsky
The Naked and The Dead Norman Mailer
Ender's Game Orson Scott Card

Posted at 12:19 am by Arnav
Comments (4)

Book List - III

The Talented Mr Ripley Patricia Highsmith
Aubrey Maturin Series (parts 1-20) Patrick O'Brian
The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
The Good Earth Pearl S Buck
True History of The Kelly Gang * Peter Carey
A Scanner Darkly Philip K Dick
Divine Invasion Philip K Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Philip K Dick
Dr Bloodmoney Philip K Dick
Flow My tears The Policeman Said Philip K Dick
Now Wait For Last Year Philip K Dick
Rautavaara's Case Philip K Dick
Second Variety Philip K Dick
The Man In The High Castle Philip K Dick
The Minority Report and Other Stories Philip K Dick
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Philip K Dick
Ubik Philip K Dick
We Can Build You Philip K Dick
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale Philip K Dick
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler
Watership Down Richard Adams
The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins
The Meaning Of It All Richard P Feynman
Beware of The Dog Roald Dahl
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator Roald Dahl
Danny and The Champion Of The World Roald Dahl
Esio Trot Roald Dahl
Fantastic Mr Fox Roald Dahl
George's Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl
Kiss Kiss Roald Dahl
My Uncle Oswald Roald Dahl
The Witches Roald Dahl
Citizen Of The Galaxy Robert Heinlein
Starship Troopers Robert Heinlein
Stranger In A Strange Land Robert Heinlein
The Green Hills Of Earth Robert Heinlein
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress Robert Heinlein
Wheel of Time (parts 1-10)  Robert Jordan
Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig
Stars From Another Sky * Saadat Hassan Manto
Fury Salman Rushdie
Midnight's Children  Salman Rushdie
The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie
Shame * Salman Rushdie
The IITians * Sandipan Deb
The Interpretation Of Dreams Sigmund Freud
Al-Jihad Stephen Coontz
The Intruders Stephen Coontz
The Red Horseman Stephen Coontz
Band of Brothers Stephen E Ambrose
A Brief History Of Time Stephen Hawking
On Writing Stephen King
Over 60 books by Stephen King Stephen King
Maximum City : Bombay Lost and Found * Suketu Mehta
Over 30 books by Terry Pratchett Terry Pratchett
An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser
Hannibal Thomas Harris
Beloved * Toni Morrison
Foucault's Pendulum Umberto Eco
The Island Of The Day Before Umberto Eco
The Name Of The Rose Umberto Eco
The Mystic Masseur V S Naipaul
A Suitable Boy * Vikram Seth
Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
To The Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
The Age of Kali * William Dalrymple
White Mughals * William Dalrymple
City of Djinns * William Dalrymple
Johnny Mnemonic William Gibson
Neuromancer William Gibson
Lord Of The Flies William Golding
Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
Junky William S Burroughs
Naked Lunch William S Burroughs
Forrest Gump Winston Groom
Gump & Co Winston Groom
Life of Pi * Yann Martel

Posted at 12:18 am by Arnav
Comments (9)

Aug 29, 2005
If You Are A Parent - Azim Premji, STOI, August 29, 2005

If you are a parent, you have many aspirations for your child that may include him or her becoming a doctor, an engineer, scientist or another kind of successful professional. I believe these aspirations are driven by your thinking about your child’s future, and her centrality in your life.

Since good education is often the passport to a good future, I presume it leads you to getting your child admitted to a good school. Then you encourage your child to study hard and do well in school exams. To bolster this, you send him or her for tuition classes. This would have primed your child for board exams and entrance exams, thereby leading to admission into a good professional course. Doing well at college increases the probability of landing a good job. And a good job means the child’s future is ensured.

I am neither a psychologist nor an educationist, and what I will now state may seem counter-intuitive. I think that these aspirations and actions might be doing more harm than good to your child. To understand why, we need to re-examine some of our fundamental assumptions.

In the first place, I have seen time and again that living for some distant future goal also means you do not live in the present. The distant goal will always translate into an external measure of success, such as exams. And most exam-focused children start forgetting what it means to be a child — to be curious, mischievous, exploring, falling, getting up, relating, discovering, inventing, doing, playing.

Childhood is very precious; precious enough not be wasted by the artificial pressures of contrived competition, by too many hours of bookish study, and by school report cards that simplistically wrap up an entire human being in numbers.

The second assumption is that education is merely a ticket to socio-economic success. Given the state of our country, this reality cannot be ignored. But restricting education to only this aspect is, I think, a very limiting notion of the aim of good education. The primary purpose of a school is to guide the child in her discovery of herself and her world, and to identify and nurture the child’s talents. Just as every seed contains the future tree, each child is born with infinite potential. Imagine a school which sees children as seeds to be nurtured — here the teacher is a gardener who helps to bring out the potential already present in the child.

This is very different from the current view which sees the child as clay to be moulded — where the teacher and parents are potters deciding what shape the clay should take. There is an old (and forgotten) Chinese saying: ‘‘Give a seed to a potter, and you will get a bonsai.’’ Even in a commercial organisation, to make profits we do not have to chase profits. Rather, we need to build an institution that gives every employee an opportunity to do meaningful and fulfilling work.

Create an organisation driven by values of innovation, integrity, customer centricity and care. And as you practise these values everyday and moment, you will see that the profits take care of themselves.

Similarly, dear parent, this is my request to you. Do not give up your child’s present to secure his or her future. Give your child the freedom to truly explore life with abandon. In doing this, you will see your child flower into a creative and sensitive human being. And when this happens, everything else — money, social success, security — will fall into place automatically.
<br. Let your child be a child.

Posted at 12:51 am by Arnav
Make a comment

Jan 24, 2005

1) In the traditional method of filming a movie the sound and the visuals are recorded separately and then synchronised later. What particular activity is carried out during the shooting to ensure proper synchronisation of the scenes and sound?
The clapperboard, the instrument all of us must have seen being clapped at the beginning of a shot before the director says "action".

2) In January 2003, there was a certain controversy involving the resemblance of a movie character from a Warner Bros movie with a well-known politician. Russian, German and Italian media carried reports on the issue, BBC's Russian service polled its website readers on whether they saw the similarity and 77percent replied in the affirmative, and a group of Russian lawyers threatened to sue Warner Bros. Name the character and the politician.
The character - Dobby, the house elf, from Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.
The politician - Vladimir Putin

3) Eunice Gayson and _____ _______ were the first, Rachel Grant, Rosamund Pike and a third person were the last. There's been only one black. There have been four Asians - Tsai Chin, Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama in 1967, and a fourth one more recently in 1997. There have been rumours for a long time about one from India. Name the only black and the fourth Asian.
These are all Bond girls. I blanked Ursula Andress. The answers are Halle Berry and Michelle Yeoh

4) Written by Paromita Vohra and Sabiha Sumar, direction by Sabiha Sumar, the main actors are ____, Aamir Ali Malik, Arsad Mahmud, Shilpa Shukla and Salman Shahid. Credits for a movie. Fill up the blank.
Kirron Kher, from Khamosh Pani

5) In the early 80s, Billa and Ranga, two dreaded criminals in Delhi were hanged to death in one of the most publicised cases of capital punishment in India. Earlier the strong undercurrent generated by the mishandling of the case was one of the reasons why Janata Party lost the elections badly in Delhi. What was the crime they were sentenced to death for?
The murder of Sanjay and Geeta Chopra, the kids after whom two of the bravery awards for children were named.

6) In 1987, a thirty-year-old Indian immigrant bank manager, Navroze Mody was beaten to death by a gang of hooligans in New Jersey. A local newspaper broughut out an article to call attention to the rising level of hate crime against Indians, and very often women. In response it received a letter that it published. "I'm writing about your article during July about the abuse of Indian People. Well I'm here to state the other side. I hate them, if you had to live near them you would also. We are an organization called _______. We have been around for 2 years. We will go to any extreme to get Indians to move out of Jersey City. If I'm walking down the street and I see a Hindu and the setting is right, I will hit him or her. We plan some of our most extreme attacks such as breaking windows, breaking car windows, and crashing family parties. We use the phone books and look up the name Patel. Have you seen how many of them there are? Do you even live in Jersey City? Do you walk down Central avenue and experience what its like to be near them: we have and we just don't want it anymore. You said that they will have to start protecting themselves because the police cannot always be there. They will never do anything. They are a week race Physically and mentally. We are going to continue our way. We will never be stopped." What's the name of the organisation?
The Dotbusters

7) Eva Lovelace, a young actress trying to make it big on the New York theater scene; Christina Drayton, who along with her husband Matt is at a loss when their daughter brings home a fiance who is black; Queen Eleanor of Aquitane, who is involved in a game of intrigue along with her three sons and her husband Henry II, and Ethel Thayer, who tries to be the stabilising force in the family when her husband and daughter undergo a rediscovery of their relationship with each other at a summer resort. These four characters have been involved in a particular record that still stands unbroken. What?The four characters for which Kate Hepburn won the Oscars, maximum for an actress. (the movies are Morning Glory, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond respectively)

8) Michael Madsen plays the role of Mr Blonde or Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs. Who, according to the creator of another character, is the more famous younger brother of Mr Blonde?
Vincent Vega, John Travolta's character in Pulp Fiction

9) Oliver Mellors returned after serving in the army to take up a job as a game-keeper on the estate of a crippled man called Clifford. Despite his aloof and derisive nature, Connie Reid is drawn to him, and they fall in love subsequently, only to be separated for a while because of the scandal caused by Mellors' old wife. Mellors leaves the farm, while the pregnant Connie is refused divorce by her husband and moves to her sister's place. The book ends with the hope that the two would still meet sometime later.How do we know Oliver Mellors better?
Lady Chatterley's Lover

10) Full Name :: _______ ________
Age :: around 35
Hair Colour :: Brown - Eye Colour :: Brown - Tattoo :: one on his right arm, a bird and his first name
Description :: clever, handsome, brave, cunning, funny, womanizer
His 'Victims' :: Annamaria, Giselle, Scarlet ...
Friends :: Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann
Hobby :: saling
Drink :: Rum
Sport :: swimming
His name :: When people don't address him by his title
Place :: Prison
People :: those who hate people in his profession
Girls :: when they slap him
Other Stuff
Obsessions :: Kill a particular man - rum
Great experience :: staying 3 days on a desert island, drinking rum
"I'm dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest...Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly...stupid."

This description is of a person obtained from a fansite dedicated to him. Who's he?

Jack Sparrow

11) Tony and Maureen Wheeler met on a bench in regent Park in London in 1970, and got married a year later, bought a second-hand minivan and set off on an overland journey from London through Asia to Australia. They arrived at Australia in 1973 with just 27 cents between them. To earn money they sold hand-sorted copies of their diary under the title Across Asia on the Cheap. Today they own a multi-million dollar business. What's its name?
Lonely Planet

12) What is the last word of the book Angela's Ashes by Francis McCourt?
'Tis, which is also the name of the sequel to Angela's Ashes

13) These pics are from the Hall of Shame section on the website of a particular book. Which book?

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

14) This pic is of ________ ______________. Born on 6th Feb, 1976 at Konya in Turkey. Did his BS in Information Engineering from Ankara, and is pursuing his PhD in Computer Science at Stanford under Professor Hector Garcia-Molina, and works in the Database Group. He has worked with Google in their user interface department too. What's his first name?
Orkut (the surname's Buyukkokten)

I was expecting a better response but probably most people (considering the fairly high hits according to the counter) chose not to give out the answers.

Posted at 04:53 pm by Arnav
Comments (1)

Jan 21, 2005
New books in the hostel library

These are the books that our hostel library got today (the titles in italics are the ones that I have already read). It totals to about 80-odd. Roughly equal number of Hindi titles were bought too.

Albom Mitch ---The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Bach Richard ---Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Bond Ruskin ---The Best of Ruskin Bond
Brown Dan --- Angels & Demons
Brown Dan --- The Da Vinci Code

Bryson Bill --- A Short History of Nearly Everything
Caldwell Ian & Dustin Thomason --- The Rule of Four
Capote Truman --- Breakfast at Tiffany's
Chatterjee Sarat Chandra --- The Homecoming
Chatterjee Sarat Chandra --- The Final Question
Chatterjee Upmanyu --- English August
Crichton Michael ---State of Fear
Das Gurcharan--- The Elephant Paradigm
Deb sandipan --- The IITians
Desai Anita --- In Custody

Eco Umberto --- Foucault's Pendulum
Eco Umberto --- The Name of the Rose
Fitzgerald F Scott --- The Great Gatsby
Ghosh Amitav ---The Calcutta Chromosome
Ghosh Amitav ---The Glass Palace

Ghosh Amitav ---The Shadow Lines
Ghosh Amitav ---The Hungry Tide
Grisham John ---The Broker
Guevara Che --- The Motorcycle Diaries
Haddon Mark --- The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-time
Heller Joseph ---Catch 22
Huxley Aldous --- Brave New World

Irving John --- The World According To Garp
Joyce James --- Selected Short Stories
Joyce James --- Dubliners
Joyce James --- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kalam APJ Abdul ---Wings of Fire
Kapur Manju --- Difficult Daughters
Kerouac Jack ---On the Road
Kundera Milan ---The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Kundera Milan ---Slowness
Lahiri Jhumpa ---The Namesake
Lahiri Jhumpa --- Interpreter of Maladies
Lapierre Dominique --- City of Joy

Lapierre Dominique and Javier Moro --- It was five past midnight in Bhopal
Lapierre Dominique and Larry Collins ---Freedom at Midnight
Lee Harper --- To Kill A Mockingbird
Marquez Gabriel Garcia --- Love in The Time of Cholera
Marquez Gabriel Garcia --- One Hundred Years of Solitude
Marquez Gabriel Garcia --- Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Martel Yann --- Life of Pi
Nabokov Vladimir ---Lolita

Naipaul VS --- A House for Mr Biswas
Narayan RK --- The Guide
Orwell George ---Animal farm

Pande Mrinal --- My Own Witness
Pierre DBC --- Vernon God Little
Rand Ayn ---The Fountainhead

Rand Ayn --- Atlas Shrugged
Robbins Tom --- Skinny Legs and All
Rowling JK --- Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Rowling JK --- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Rowling JK --- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Rowling JK --- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Rowling JK --- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Rushdie Salman--- Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Rushdie Salman--- East, west
Rushdie Salman--- The Ground Beneath Her Feet
Rushdie Salman--- Shame
Rushdie Salman--- Fury
Rushdie Salman--- Midnight's Children
Saint-Exupery Antoine de --- The Little Prince

Swarup Vikas--- Q and A
Thackeray William --- Vanity Fair
Toffler Alvin --- Future Shock
Tolkien JRR --- The Lord of the Rings
Tolstoy Leo --- Anna Karenina
Truss Lynn --- Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Vonnegut Kurt --- Slaughterhouse 5
Wodehouse PG --- Uncle Fred: An Omnibus
Wodehouse PG --- Life at Blandings
Wodehouse PG --- The Pothunters and other school stories
Wodehouse PG --- The Gold Bat and other school stories
Wodehouse PG --- Imperial Blandings : An Omnibus
Wodehouse PG --- The World of Psmith : Omnibus
Woolf Virginia --- Mrs Dalloway

Posted at 10:42 pm by Arnav
Comments (2)

Jul 25, 2004
My Movie Library

I have cut down drastically on my movie watching time in the last week or so. That leaves me with small periods of time when I have almost nothing worthwhile to do, since the classes haven't begun yet. Today I thought of cataloguing all the movies that I have with me, which will hopefully save some time when some friend of mine drops by to borrow a movie or two. But before that I had to start off on a movie search expedition to hunt out all the movies I have saved in the remotest crannies of my hard-disk, and then all the CDs I have spread all over my room. These are the movies I could find. Unfortunately I have lost some of my CDs,and I have also not been writing any new for about four months now unless I come across some really rare masterpiece. Now the 'only' thing left is to devise a manner to catalogue all of these so that I can pick one out in a jiffy rather than having to go through the entire pile. Any suggestions?

1. 40 Days and 40 Nights
2. A Clockwork Orange
3. Akira
4. Amelie
5. American History X
6. American Psycho
7. Analyze This
8. Any Given Sunday
9. Apocalypse Now
10. As Good As It Gets
11. Austin Powers - Goldmember
12. Austin Powers - The International Man of Mystery
13. Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me
14. Back To The Future
15. Back To The Future - II
16. Back To The Future - III
17. Bandits
18. Blue Velvet
19. Boogie Nights
20. Bourne Identity
21. Bridget Jones's Diary
22. Cannibal Holocaust
23. Casablanca
24. Cidade de Deus
25. Citizen Kane
26. Con Air
27. Dead Man Walking
28. Dirty Dancing
29. Duck Soup
30. Dune
31. Enter The Dragon
32. Eraserhead
33. Exorcist 2000 - Director's Cut
34. Eyes Wide Shut
35. Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within
36. Frailty
37. Full Metal Jacket
38. Gangs of New York
39. Good Will Hunting
40. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone
41. Heat
42. Ice Age
43. Indiana Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Ark
44. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
45. Insomnia
46. Jeepers Creepers
47. JFK
48. L A Confidential
49. Lion King
50. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
51. Lola Rennt !!
52. Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of The Ring
53. Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
54. Lost Highway
55. Magnolia
56. Malena
57. Meet Joe Black
58. Memento
59. Monsoon Wedding
60. Monster's Ball
61. Monty Python and The Holy Grail
62. Mortal Kombat : Annihilation
63. Moulin Rouge
64. Mulholland Drive
65. My Best Friend's Wedding
66. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
67. Narc
68. Natural Born Killers
69. No Man's Land
70. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!
71. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
72. Panic Room
73. Platoon
74. Porco Rosso
75. Pretty Woman
76. Rear Window
77. Red Dragon
78. Remember The Titans
79. Resident Evil
80. Road To Perdition
81. Scent of a Woman
82. Schindler's List
83. Scooby Doo
84. Seven
85. Seven Years In Tibet
86. Shakespeare In Love
87. Showgirls
88. Shrek
89. Signs
90. Simone
91. Sleepy Hollow
92. Snow White and The Seven Dwarves
93. Spirited Away
94. Starship Troopers
95. Stigmata
96. Taxi Driver
97. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
98. The Animatrix
99.The Cell
100. The Devil's Advocate
101. The Dreamers
102. The Fifth Element
103. The Graduate
104. The Hobbit (animation)
105. The Last of The Mohicans
106. The Majestic
107. The Matrix
108. The Others
109. The Pianist
110. The Royal Tenenbaums
111. The Shining
112. The Silence of The Lambs
113. The Sixth Sense
114. The Straight Story
115. The Time Machine
116. The Untouchables
117. The Usual Suspects
118. Thomas Crown Affair
119. Top Gun
120. Training Day
121. Trainspotting
122. Un Chien Andalou
123. Unfaithful
124. Vanilla Sky
125. Waterworld
126. What Women Want
127. Young Frankenstein

Posted at 07:56 pm by Arnav
Comments (5)

May 10, 2004
My First Date with College

I was asked by one of my ex-schoolmates today to send her a description of my first day at college. She needed it for some inputs for an article she is writing for her college mag. I had intended it to be a brief thing but I couldn't stop myself from turning it into this monstrosity. And then I decided to put it up as a post at my blog too. I know all of you have had similar interesting incidents, and it'd be great if you could share them. This is the letter I sent her:

My first day at college wasn't particularly funny, nothing out of the ordinarily funny that is, but I still can't hold back a smile whenever I think of it. Coming to an engineering college I was slightly apprehensive thanks to the reputation professional colleges have. My father had accompanied me to my hostel where we had to register in the morning. After all the newcomers and their wards had been addressed by the Warden and the House Secretary (the highest student post in the hostel)about absence of ragging in IIT and there being just a "healthy" interaction between freshers and their seniors, we felt really comforted. Little did we know that those seniors hanging around answering parents' queries and helping about were actually marking out bakras to be halaal-ed later.
After settling down in our allotted rooms (which included meeting my roomie who seemed a really weird chap that first day, and I was horrified at the thought of spending two years with him...who also later turned out to be one of my best friends in college), and having lunch with some of the profs and senior students, the freshers were taken by a handful of second-yearites for orientation to the institute. My father had to leave for some work and after the orientation (and I slept right through it) I had to return back alone. During the orientation we were addressed by the Students' Affairs Council (SAC) G.Sec. among others who convinced us again that "there is absolutely no ragging in IITD" and we'll only be asked to participate in some cultural events planned for the new batch by seniors as part of our interaction period.

On my way back to the hostel it began raining. It was about 6:00 when I reached hostel alone, drenched, and as it turned out an ideal candidate for screwing. A group of 3rd-yearites were sitting right there at the entrance with two freshers standing in front of them. I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as I possibly could and attempted to pass through the crowd assembled there to watch these two guys being ragged. I've always felt that my luck deserts me at the worst of times, and it didn't do anything to dispel my belief that evening either.

I was obviously caught and made to stand along with those two guys. Today I don't even remember which of my batchmates had the good fortune of being ragged for the first time in my company. I was asked to wish all my seniors there by "maaroing ninety" which includes bending down to an angle of 90 degrees precisely and wishing every senior good evening/morning/afternoon. No. of seniors = no. of times you have to straighten up and bend down. Probably sounds easy but not when you have to do it all through the day for two weeks. After that I had to give my intro which means a detailed introduction in a particular format in one language without any abbreviations. Somewhere half way through my introduction I gave my rank eleven thirty-four and one of those monsters asked me if I had got two ranks. So I had to start again with remembering to say one-thousand-one-hundred-and-thirty-four. IIT-JEE had to be the entire thing and not just the short form, and many such other subtle details. I finally managed to get through my intro in about 15 minutes. By this time I was shivering, partly because of having got wet in the rain, and partly because of the nervous anticipation of other treats that might follow. Right then we were joined by another senior who turned out to be none other than the SAC G Sec himself. I wished him and then my ordeal picked up again. That guy asked me "yeh kya ho raha hai?" and I was naive enough to say that"sir, meri ragging ho rahi hai". At this he got really angry and shouted at me "do you really think this is ragging? Go and look at RECs and other engg colleges...wahan to fachchon ki pitayee hoti hai. This is healthy interaction." My healthy interaction standing there continued for about 1 hour,by the end of which I was completely drained out and if someone had got an application form to leave the college in front of me right then I would probably have signed it. Thankfully, that never happened.

After my first interaction (read interrogation) with 3rd-yearites got over, or rather they got bored with me and found some new candidates, I was sent to my room, and asked to come to the lounge area within 10 minutes dressed in formals. I thought of feigning illness or some other excuse and avoiding going out of my room again, but I somehow knew that wouldn't work. So, I put on my formal clothes and returned to the lounge. Now it was the turn of the 2nd-yearites to extract their daily dose of entertainment from me. First I was asked to button up my shirt, unfold and button my sleeves, and remove my belt (we had to be dressed like this for the next two weeks, and anyone who has witnessed Delhi's summers should shudder at our plight),and after that the fun began. Fun of course would be a very relative term here. Apart form the regular singing-dancing routine, which nevertheless was in itself a difficult thing for someone like me, what really took the cake was this Jugal-bandi of abuses that they organised between me and another "puppy" fresher. For the uninitiated "puppy" is the term for someone who is/looks innocent and child-like. We were supposed to coin new and interesting abusive words, and hurl them at each other, which was a very scandalous thing for me as I had hardly ever used or been the recipient of abuses before that. Not that I use them even now, but I have gotten used to hearing the choicest of them around me. It was different the first day though. Somehow I managed to keep the game going for about 10 minutes, and for those long and oppressive 10 minutes I felt exactly like the two fowls in a ring who fight each other with all their might because they know that the one losing would be slaughtered and eaten up. In our case the slandering match was declared a tie, not because we were equally good, but because we fared so miserably that the seniors felt that it would be a shame to declare one of us the winner and let him off easily.

After that a couple of seniors took me away for their exclusive pleasure and began a long and painful interview. One of the interesting questions that I was asked was to imagine myself as a soap being used by my favorite actress for her bath, and I had to describe whatever I saw. I probably did a good job because they got slightly friendly after that and asked me to sit beside them. And believe me, if a fresher got that privilege on the first day, he had to have some aukaat.

My comfort was short-lived though as I was handed over to another 2nd-yearite who took me upstairs to his room where there were two 3rd-yearites sitting doing some assignment. On seeing me their faces lit up and I would have been very happy with that response some other day, but not then. I knew I was in for some new action. The series of intros and embarassing questions that included the sizing up of things, description of certain individuals in not-so-flattering terms and other stuff continued again, and by then I had almost got used to giving a mechanical reply to all these questions. But then I was asked to do something I had been dreading all the time. One of the seniors asked me to close the latch on the door, and after that I was asked to remove my shirt. I knew where this was eventually going to go and I was contemplating whether to oblige the great man when there was a call on the speaker in the corridor, "Rahul Khanna, please come to the PA system". I was immediately dispatched down to the mess for dinner along with the guy who had taken me up, and I assumed that the senior who was so interested in watching me undres was Rahul Khanna himself. But, after my interaction period got over and I got to know all my seniors I still never found someone called Rahul Khanna. It was much later in the year when I discovered that it was a code used by the seniors to warn people ragging freshers in their rooms that a team of professors was entering the hostel to ensure that there wasn't any ragging going on. Very ingenious, and at the cost of divulging a well-guarded hostel secret let me tell you that we still use it.

After having dinner, the house secretary took me to his room (word had already gone around and I was being considered one of the more interesting fachchas by that night), where some other 4th-yearites were waiting for us along with another of my batchmates. After the series of routine qiestions, one of those guys had a brain-wave and he asked if we would like to play a game. I knew I would regret it later but I replied in the affirmative. Not that I had any real choice. The other fresher there was from a family in UP involved in the milk business, and he was asked to imagine himself as a milk-man who has fallen in love with his buffalo. No points for guessing who the buffalo was. But before you start getting any ideas, it did not turn physical, and we were only asked to give our versions of how we first met, fell in love, married and spent the first night. After the game was over, I was declared the winner hands-down, probably because I had let go off of any remaining shame that I had left that evening, and gave an absolutely uncharacteristic (of me) description of the chain of events that left the bunch of seniors (literally) rolling on the floor with laughter. I am afraid I cannot reproduce that here, because my memory fails me, and also because people don't expect something like that from me.

That was the final task of the day. All the freshers assembled in the mess for a short time where we were introduced to the various office-bearers of the hostel, were taught the hostel chant, and other nitty-gritties that seemed stupid then but I was back to teach them to my freshers the next year. Finally we were asked to retire to our rooms and go to sleep, and not too soon either. Though a lot more was to come the next day, and continue for the following two weeks, and I gradually became immune and even started missing it once all of it got over, but I shall probably never forget the first day.

Posted at 12:41 am by Arnav
Comments (4)

Apr 5, 2004
Midnight's Brahmins

I am a very impulsive buyer when it comes to books, movies and music, and especially books as I normally use shared movies and music from the LAN. I have burnt my hands a number of times when I have regretted buying a particular book after splurging on it in a moment of temporary insanity. But, I learn with difficulty, as my profs would happily certify. At the recent World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan, I had very consciously decided not to buy anything as I was a little short on cash, plus had a huge backlog of books in my room anyway. I was happily wading through the piles and piles of books when my eyes fell on Eragon. The recent blockbuster by Christopher Paolini was on my wish-list after a friend’s strong recommendation. I pulled my eyes away and moved on. But alas, the next stall had another book that simply called out to me, and I couldn’t resist myself as successfully this time. I don’t know why I bought it because I hadn’t even heard of it till then. (As it turned out later everyone else I know had heard of it…people had apparently even read several reviews!).Anyway, I paid the money and came out of the stall, had a dekko at the rest of the fair and then returned. When I started reading the book, within a few pages I began to have the kind of feeling that one would probably have if he went to a hardware store, bought the most beautiful (and expensive) antique axe, put his best foot forward, and then brought the axe down with full force on to it. A feeling of extreme stupidity coupled with pain (of having wasted some good money). I put down the book, and returned to the other book I had left unfinished earlier. Thankfully though, I decided to give this book a second chance some time later. The book is The IITians by Sandipan Deb.

The initial response from most readers would be – Aaaaargh! Another of those books about how IITians are the ‘cream’ of the nation, and how Jawaharlal Nehru established IIT Kgp, and every other hackneyed stuff that you have probably heard, and heard some more. Well, it does have all that, and more than once. That was the reason why I felt stupid within the first few pages. But, the book has a lot else also. And I realised that after the first few pages got over.

I don’t see why anyone who hasn’t studied in IIT will understand, and so like, the book. And I also don’t see why anyone who has studied in IIT will not like the book. There’s something that should be very clear when you pick up the book. You are not going to read a classic piece of non-fiction. The writing is very patchy, at times even juvenile, and repetitive. There’s very little that is new knowledge, especially if you are a B Tech student in IIT. It’s difficult to believe that the author (an IIT Kgp alumnus) is the editor of a leading newsmagazine. Or probably not that difficult, as he does seem to have got used to writing short, clipped articles, and has very obvious difficulty in managing the whole book. But, despite that I still liked the book. I liked it because there has never been a more comprehensive piece of writing on everything that IIT stands for, good or bad. I liked it because the book raises some issues that we somehow tend to ignore. I liked it because, it simply connects.

The IITians has, as I mentioned, pages and pages of gloating over how intelligent IIT students are, even going to the extent of saying that once a student gets into IIT his life is made, even if he might be at the bottom of his class! Great therapeutic value, but does get too sugary at occasions. Deb gives a list of several alumni who have made it big in various fields, a list we all must be familiar with – the Rajat Guptas, the Vinod Khoslas, the Gururaj Deshpandes and the Nandan Nilekanis. He also talks about the CBS 60 minutes episode on IIT (we have seen that too, haven’t we?) in detail, with shameless pride. All this is great to boost your confidence if you are not getting a job, or simply feeling down and out, but otherwise not worth much. You could even ignore all this.

Thankfully, Deb does not persist too long on this triteness, and moves on to other things relatively more novel. He has met loads of ex-IITians, and visited his alma-mater, apart from IITB and IITD, and puts that research to good use. There are quite a few IITians, apart from the more illustrious ones, who are doing great work but are not so well-known and he writes about them. An important case in point is that of Anuvrata (Dunu) K.Roy, B Tech 1967, IITB and M Tech 1969, IITB. He has been associated with some very important non-governmental development work in Madhya Pradesh, and was awarded the IITB Distinguished Alumnus Award some time back. There are several names like his that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for this book.

Then there are chapters on his visit to IIT Kgp for a reunion, and the memories that are rekindled are something that I could identify with very well. Some of the stuff mentioned in these chapters is specific to IIT Kgp, but most of it is what I am sure any of us would experience if we were to return to IITD after a long gap. Sandipan Deb was not a ‘good’ student as far as academic performance goes, and spent more of his time in cultural, political, and other extra-curricular pursuits. His wife is an ex-batchmate. The passion with which he writes about practising for the inter-hostel competitions, or cheering (and anti-cheering) to keep the enthu high, would be all too familiar for many of us. “On one of my visits to Kharagpur while researching this book, I found myself walking back at 2 a.m. from RK Hall to the campus guest house where I was staying. And I couldn’t help but wonder at the extreme emotions we had invested in this building, with its primitive toilets, its water problems, its appalling food. But the fact remains that so many years later, it still gives me a tingle to see my name on the board that lists all the presidents of RK Hall…All the labour, all the blood, sweat and tears that we invested in keeping our hostel’s flag flying high – none of it ever helped us directly in getting jobs or shaping our careers. But by offering us something tangible to be passionate about, the IIT hostels taught us what real passion is and how it works, and gave us some basic leadership skills, political acumen and street smartness…..(At) the global IITian summit, IIT Bombay alumnus Victor Menezes, vice-chairman of Citigroup, said that he had to leave because he had some other engagement. Fellow Bombay alumni management consultant Jay Desai and Nandan Nilekani would not hear of it; it was very important that Menezes stay back for a few minutes and speak to the gathering. Menezes kept refusing, till Desai touched his arm and said:’Please, Victor, do this for Hostel Eight.’ Menezes, one of the top fifty bankers in the world, stayed back for Hostel Eight.”
He later expresses sadness that this “passion” seems to be dying out and with every subsequent visit he finds even less number of students really interested in anything apart from their books. I couldn’t agree more.

He also talks about other stuff only IITians would truly identify with - the Kota phenomenon, or the ‘studs’ who would spend all their time on worthless activities all through the semester, and then study for a couple of nights to phodofy the exams, or for that matter, the female factor (or the lack of it) in IIT campuses. “…It was horrible to see otherwise high self esteem young men – our seniors, guys who were ragging the hell out of us every evening – make utter fools of themselves trying to charm our female classmates. They would hang around the institute corridors and try to start chance conversations with the first-year girls…And of course, we first-years would be asked to give detailed reports on the girls’ movements, predilections and vulnerable areas.” Sounds familiar?

During his visit to our college with an ex-IITD friend of his, Ashish Goyal, he visited his friend’s hostel. He met a few students who told him that they were “being fined for smoking tobacco, and suspended for entire semesters for drinking alcohol in their hostel rooms. Entry into the hostels was strictly monitored by security guards brandishing registers in which you had to write down your name and address and reason for entry. Even playing cricket in the hostel corridors invited a fine of Rs 500”. The hostel is not mentioned, but that’s not difficult to figure out. He talks more about this “big brotherly attitude” and “draconian disciplinary framework” in a later chapter, titled ‘For the Benefit of the Directors’. “Corridor cricket is one of the most common pastimes in Indian hostels, and is possibly one of the fondest memories of a large number of IITians who have turned out to be perfectly normal, indeed highly successful, engineers, managers, citizens and leaders”.
There are excerpts from an article written by Ashish Rastogi, a Computer Science student from IITD who passed out last year that he uses to put his case forward. And he goes on to argue that “… am I reading too much into this phenomenon, or is there some connection between the new tyranny and the sudden rise of the IITian on the world stage, riding the global technology boom that started in the mid-1990s?… Could it be that the IIT authorities, in some strange way, felt threatened by the success of their former pupils and decided to crack down on the current students just to make sure they got the message that they may go out and rule the world, but as long as they were in IIT, they were totally in the power of the administration?” Interesting theory. Is there any substance to it?

In the following chapters there are discussions on the other problems IITs are facing like brain drain, shortage of funds, deterioration in the faculty, and the like, and Deb attempts to suggest solutions too, with eager and ample help provided by other alumni. Joseph Sreshtha, a naval architect from Kharagpur, 1972 batch, says, “…Give each alumnus a chance to name his room! C206 Azad Hall: an alumnus gives $100, and the room’s named after him. Hang his picture there, list his damn achievements! That’s how Americans raise money – by appealing to people’s basic instincts.”

I could go on citing excerpts from the book that make it a really good read. But, I’d suggest you experience it yourself. The book is made up of several small parts, at least some of which will definitely stay with you once you are done with it. For me, it was this portion where he reflects upon the time people like himself, Nandan Nilekani (his batch began Mood Indigo), Manohar Parikkar (two times Mess Secy at IITB), and others, ‘wasted’ in getting involved in non-academic activities – “Was it a monumental waste of time and energy? It seemed like that to many students, who preferred to stay in their rooms and focus on their academics. It’s also true that those of us who busted our butts in these activities definitely took a hit on their grades. For students like me, who were anyway in the bottom one-third of the class, the die was already cast. Our grades were already poor, and a few more Cs would not have made much difference to my academic trajectory. In fact, people like me hoped that when we applied for jobs, our academic shortcomings would be offset by our extra-curricular achievements and student government posts, which would indicate that we possessed that important and ill-defined quality called ‘leadership ability’. But I also know several IITians who would have topped their classes if they did not spend part of their time in extra-curricular activities. Many of them made that decision consciously. They preferred a fuller life to academic glory.”

Posted at 01:19 am by Arnav
Make a comment