Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Da - noun/pronoun
It is a well-known word found in the lexicon of tamil and malayalam population (of other languages I have no idea da). Its a versatile filler, a universal prefix, and an unavoidable suffix in most conversations. This two letter 'biggie' is the most popular word owing to its flexibility to be used in different situations and connotations with just slight variation in tone.The fact that almost 80% of any meaningful conversation consists entirely of this commonplace term speaks volumes about  the popularity this word enjoys.
The common versions are shown below.    
1. Da! (may or may not be followed by expletives): When delivered like a pop of a bullet with a slight dent in teh tone; expect a punch from the speaker. It is the intimidating da. I have come across this only in Kerala.
eg : da @##%^&@@*! give my money back!

2. Daaaaaaaaaa ( when delivered lazily with the dreary voice dying down in time) : The speaker is searching for an excuse.
eg :Daaaaaaaa! I forgot to  book your ticket to the U.S daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

3. Da (delivered mostly in a husky voice) : the cajoling da. If uttered by your better half get ready to be robbed of all your money.
eg : Da(heavy breathing) can we go for shopping today?

4. DaaAAaa : A variant of the above. Also used to lure an innocent listener into something. Characterised by the speakers voice travelling to the upper  octaves and coming back.
eg :  Come on, lets kill this guy  DaaAAaa!

5. The above can also be used to tease a person after he has done something embarrassing or unspeakable
eg : DaaAAaaa ! Did you vote for Congress ? Shame! Shame!

The other variants include the cracker da which is in fact a series of da delivered one after the other(da da da da) resembling a drumbeat used mainly to intimidate a person; the revelation da which is a da in the form of a shriek usually used after you discover who stole your rare medival period coin from your collection etc.
Da can also be used to mark the end or the beginning of a statement or used as meaningful pauses fixed in between apologies. New forms and usages are being introduced every second.
The list is endless , ever growing and evolving da.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Raavanan (tamil)

I watched Raavanan the tamil version of Mani ratnam's magnum opus today and I honestly feel that it does not live upto the hype it has generated. I felt disappointed at the maestro's latest offering.
The film begins with a brilliant scene that introduces the antagonist Veerayya (raavan/Vikram) kidnapping raagini (sita/Aishawrya rai bachchan) wife of a superintendent of police Dev (ram/Prithviraj). But from then on throughout the first half the movie is just a mish-mash of images that roll in front of the eyes without any effect on the viewers. The only saving grace is Vikram whose unflinching dedication to the character pays off. He literally lives the menacing and unpredictable Veera with relative ease.
The second half gets interesting as the cat and mouse game between Dev and Veera intensifies.Dev tries to catch Veera by hook or by crook while Veera
remains elusive and poses fresh challenge to Dev and his army every minute. I felt that Raavan actually came alive only at this juncture. This half also explains
reason for Veera's enimosity with Dev.It culminates in a brilliantly choreographed fight sequence above a hanging bridge that sent shivers down my spine.
I think Mani Ratnam's idea to narrate the Ramayana from the view point of Raavana was a brilliant plan.To explore the oft-heard tale from the viewpoint
of the oppressed and bring about an alternate narrative is commendable. But i think that is also this film's biggest disadvantage. Mani Ratnam i feel
has been too faithful to the original Ramayana. We have Karthik jumping from tree to tree desparaely trying to show us that he is Hanuman, the
henchman of Rama. We hear many characters talk of the 14 days that raagini has spent in custody of Veera - an obvious reference to the fourteen years
of Vanvaas.And the repeated references to the ten characters of the fugitive is just irritating .There are many such scenes in the film which I felt was included
because it is there in the original. We understand the meaning of an adaptation , but you don't have to rub it in!
Prithviraj cannot even even act as a monkey's tail and he portrays Dev!To watch him trying to act was hilarious . Aishwarya looks jaded throughout the film.
The camera by Santhosh Sivan is scintillating. He has absorbed the hues and beauty of those scenic locales brilliantly. Each scene looks like a vibrant
moving canvas. The background music is amazing and the songs have a raw energy in them. Vikram is just outstanding - slowly trying to untangle his complex and multi-layered character and place before us the bare man behind the 'Raavan'.
Watch this movie for the picturesquw locales ,superb cinematography and impressive background music. But above all watch it for the devotion of Mani ratnam to this art - he has given it his heart and soul to it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


This post is a result of some pleasant and many unsavoury experiences I had while i tried my hand at cracking a few crosswords. Whoa! Whoa ! Stop it right there .Before you march down this post let me clarify a few things.This post is not a comprehensive list of do's and dont's of crossward-cracking.Why? Simply because no such list exists. Secondly I am not an expert . I have solved only a few crosswords ; but i must confess I relished those moments!
This post is about the discoveries I made during my humble endeavors. So here it goes:
Discovery 1: Getting a crossword is easy!
Most newspapers have a daily crossword and there is a high probability that the newspaper that you follow has one. Or there are numerous free crossword puzzles online which you can access after a simple 'googling'. The more serious among you can buy crossword puzzles books.
The New York Times Supersized Book of Sunday Crosswords: 500 Puzzles (New York Times Crossword Puzzles)

Discovery 2 : Getting started is tough!
Seriously, the toughest part of the crossword is not in cracking the clues but pushing yourself to attempt it. You might feel that you are not upto it or that the clues dont make any sense.Don't worry relax! It didn't make any sense to me the first time either. If you feel that the online tutorials will make you a 'crossie-genius' then the time has come to share my third discovery

Discovery 3: Online tutorials does not make you a genius
Yes they don't because they can't. If they promise you they can then definitely they CANNOT. Some of the online communities actually encourage discussion on crosswords and thus might improve your understanding but thats about it. The website www.crosswordunclued.com is a very useful website for beginners and veterans alike but ultimately you have to walk the walk yourself

Discovey 4 : Some clues
Most of the easier clues in crosswords, I have come to know,  involve anagrams and containers. Let me explain. Anagrams are words formed by rearranging the alphabets of another word. For example

dormitory = dirty room (how true!)

another example made popular by the Da vinci code is

Oh! lame saint = the mona lisa.
Click here for more on anagrams

Most clues involving anagrams are indicated in the clues by the words out, break/broken, mix/mixed etc. because anagrams involve breaking and
mixing to bring out new words.

Example ( from Hindu crossword : nita jaggi)
Old man breaks the nut(6)
Here the breaks is adjacent to the old man. so by rearranging we get
old man = almond ;which is a nut
Also notice that old man contains six alphabets as indicated in  the question.

Containers are clues in which the answer lies within the question, literally.

Example ( from Hindu crossword 9870 : nita jaggi):
Rabbit found in the Gurkha regiment (4)
Usually the words in, inside, within etc. indicate a container. So observing closely inside the phrase
Gorkha regiment we get the answer hare which is a rabbit.

for other abbreviations and clues:  Click here

Discovery 5 : Enjoying the process is the goal!

I had been very disappointed at my not being  able to crack the easiest of clues and overlooking the simplest of hints.I cursed myself for it. Then I realised that beating myself up was taking the fun out of it. So if you feel dejected while in the middle of a crossie-session  take a break , freshen up, and have a go at it later. Trust me it will a lot more enjoyable then.

Final Discovery : the atlantis
No esoteric lectures can replace the exhilarating experience of that eureka movement. So are you up to it?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Johnny gone down

Johnny gone down is Karan bajaj's( karan bajaj) second offering after the successful venture 'Keep off the grass'.
Johnny gone down is a racy, entertaining piece of fiction that resembles a taut Hollywood thriller that you  see often but soon forget.
The story unfolds in an Indian railways compartment, a famililar setting for most desis.But from then on the book takes a roller coaster ride spanning MIT, Boston, to Phnom Penh, Cambodia ,stopping briefly at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand racing forward to Rio de Jenero, Brazil, back again to the U.S before taking a final plunge in India.
The Protagonist Nikhil Arya, is believable and familiar at first as an MIT graduate waiting for a job in NASA. What happens to his life after his "innocent vacation' to Cambodia with his friend 'Sam' is unbelivable and overtly imaginative  even for a work of fiction. The hero sheds his skin from an ambitious young man to a genocide escapee to a monk with relative ease. But may be thats what the author intended. Nikhil and Nick and  Monk Namche and Coke Buddha and Johnny pass through our mind like a typical Bollywood heroine in a song video with her trademark costume changes. None stays with us.
The author has tried to juggle unsuccessfully with philosophy and mafia, family and detachment,friendship and karma yogaleaving too many balls in the air. The reader ends up confused while the story ends in a typical bollywood fashion.
Priced at just Rs 99 /- this book is aimed at entertaining the masses. One may even find a movie adaptation soon and then we will forget it. We have too many examples to prove that.
Search Amazon.com Books for johnny gone down

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


In this blog i thought i will share something that i have been using for a while. Its a website from google called fastflip.googlelabs.com .This site is very useful since it brings to you feeds from all major newspapers and magazines
in one page. And whats more! you can search for a particular news you want.
More info from google blog  here
So start flipping!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Venitian Betrayal

This Cotton Malone thriller by Steve Berry along the lines of 'the Da vinci Code' is a part truth-part fiction thriller involving the lost tomb of Alexander, a draught that that can cure AIDS and the political turmoils in a
fictional Central Asian Republic formed by the union of states like Kyrgiasthan, Kazakhistan etc.The CAR is ruled by Irina Zovastina who fashions herself after Alexander the great and derives most of her ideologies from Homer's Iliad. Her quest to find the tomb forms a rather shaky crux of the story.
I found the book to be good in patches. The book is not a thriller per se. There are small chapters hanging in there without contributing to thrills. The chapters are small like the DaVinci Code but sometimes too small. They don't convey much. The characters are half baked and it would have been better if the story had less but strong characters than a multitude of 'ghosts'.The cure for AIDS , the politics behind it, etc together with the tomb of one the most enigmatic conquerors of all times makes an explosive mix of a storyline but it completely fizzes out especially towards the end.
I will suggest this book to anyone who just wants to kill time while reading a book. Not recommended for a serious reading.