Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This and all...

I've known K for almost 7 years now. We met in the 9th standard when I joined a new school. We were classmates and we were also two amongst a total of 7 people who took Tamil in the 9th. That number dwindled down to 3 in the 11th and 12th standard. Surprisingly, we have never spoken to each other in Tamil.

Yesterday, I met him after a year and a half, and we spoke, as usual, completely in English. A common friend of ours called in the middle and I immediately reverted to Tamil when I was on the phone, and so did K. And once he hung up, it was all English again.

I guess I must have spoken in English for the most part when I joined that new school and I guess that's probably why we've never been able to start off with a 'dei, enna da panra?' ('what you up to?'). Instead of saying 'idhellam over da', we have to use convoluted sentences such as 'this is and all too much', thereby indicating that we are Tamil in our hearts but that we use English solely as a means of conveying the thoughts we have in Tamil.

Maybe since I am so extremely jobless right now, I'll try talking to him only in Tamil. It's always good to fill up time trying to put people at unease, right?  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I Hate To Fly

I am not a fan of traveling by air. Wait, let me qualify that statement. I am not a fan of traveling in the economy class. And, since I will never pay for a business class ticket and since the chances of me getting bumped up are as likely as George Bush actually getting hit by a shoe, I'm destined to painful flights where I have to sleep sitting up and make way for neighbours with out-of-control bladders.

I do, however, like the short, domestic flights. You get in, find a seat, shut your eyes and then an hour later you're waiting for the seat belt sign to come off. It's the international flights that really make me feel like smacking someone (not that I ever will, but still).

I believe that there are 4 factors that decide how bearable the flight will turn out to be:

1. The person sitting in front of you

I have always had the misfortune of sitting behind people who like to go to town with their seat recline button. As soon as the air hostess gives the OK sign, the seat in front of me starts its descent and soon enough it's almost touching my nose. A solution that has been offered to me is to also do the same thing. But see, I don't want to cause trouble to the person behind me. I'm nice like that. Oh and I would also like to take this opportunity to quash the theory that I do not know how to operate the recline button.

2. The leg room

This is crucial. I despise Lufthansa flights merely for the reason that the leg room in economy is woeful. I believe that to sit 10 hours with no space to move your feet amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

3. The TV

I find it impossible to sleep sitting up and so I rely on the entertainment that the plane offers to while away the time. I've noticed that a lot of flights now offer TV shows and movies on-demand and those flights are the best. I can see TV shows I've seen before, over and over again. I've seen every episode of The Office and Scrubs more than 5 times each. It's a gift, I know.

4. The person sitting next to you

I usually like talking to people sitting next to me on the plane. But sometimes, conversations can get weird. Especially if the neighbour starts confiding his personal problems with you because you remind him of his son. Or if she starts asking you about how to fix her laptop once she finds out that you are a Computer Science major. And to top it all, if he spills tomato juice on your jeans, calls the air hostess and asks for one more glass of tomato juice.

The flight to Heathrow got delayed by an hour and so I got the time to write out this rant of sorts for your reading pleasure. Yes, I know, one more reason to hate the system.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In my fifth semester, I...

My fifth semester at UT ended today. It's been my hardest semester, academically and otherwise. There are many things that can almost break a man, and studying for a  Computer Architecture final for 5 consecutive days ranks high on that list. But, it's all over now and a much needed trip to Chennai is 2 days away!

Reader(s) of this blog might remember seeing posts about what I really do during my semesters at college and this is another one in what promises to be an 8 part series (I hope).

So, without further adieu, in my fifth semester, I

1. Saw snow in Austin, and I mean proper snow. Like real snow flakes. The white, flake shaped kind.

2. Got smacked on the face by hail. The beautiful snow, sadly, didn't last too long.

3. Went to Seattle. Highlights include playing with the Microsoft Surface and attempting to take pictures of the city without destroying the camera in the rain and wind at the top of the Space Needle.

4. Stayed up till 5am to watch India beat England in a cracker of a match at Chepauk. Studying for my aforementioned final would have been wiser, but missing Sachin score that winning boundary would have been criminal.

5. Found out the hard way that everything is closed on Thanksgiving. Spent 3 hours looking for food all around Austin before finally coming across an open Mexican supermarket. Tortillas with ready made Dal Makhni is not too terrible.

6. Saw a creepy, old Indian guy in the library who came often to the same study lounge and did nothing but stare at the people around him. Quite a few theories were postulated about why he was the way he was, but the opinion that he was creepy was unanimous.

7. Ended up going to my Differential Equations class a total of 9 times. It was not entirely my fault though - 8 am is an unseemly hour to wake up at.

8. Had my worst ever season with the bat and best ever season with the ball in the Central Texas Cricket League.

9. Added more credibility to the claim that I am a klutz. I fell down while climbing up the stairs with a laundry basket, spilt my coffee several times in the microwave oven and banged into a desk while trying to show my room-mate that I could do more than 10 consecutive push-ups.

10. Voted for the first time ever. Yes, he won and is apparently bringing change to America. No more begging for quarters for laundry anymore.

11. Correctly predicted that it would not rain in Austin on a day when every news channel predicted heavy thunder showers. Even the UT football game was postponed. I, however, incorrectly predicted on a November night that it would be warm  and had to walk back home in the cold wearing a flimsy t-shirt.

12. Drove around Austin at 2 am looking for Hot Chocolate. Gave up after a luck-less hour and a half and went over to a friend's place and quietly drank his 'hot chocolate'. Also heard about his stimulating Tori Amos experience, but let's not venture into that.

13. Spilt coke in exactly the same way (holding the cup closer to the top) thrice - once at Burger King, once at Wendy's and once at home.

14. Walked to campus on a fine Friday morning with just my camera. Had lunch with a friend and did not do anything even remotely academic. The fact that I had a weekday with nothing to do did not seem to throw me off. And as a result, did not submit the homework that was apparently due that day.

Ignorance, really is bliss.


Other awesome reads:
In my fourth semester, I
Things I did in my third semester
Things I did in my second semester
Things I did in my first semester

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When

Down in the dumps -> Twist and Shout

Sluggish-> City of Blinding Lights

Love sick -> Khuda Jaane

Singing along -> Pichle Saat Dinon Mein

Thinking about the world -> Imagine

Not on the verge of getting a head ache -> Baba O'Riley

Noticing a cute girl on the bus -> Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi

Home sick -> Maana Madurai

Regretful -> Yesterday

Driving alone -> Free Fallin'

Nostalgic -> Summer of 69

Seeking calm -> Besame Mucho

Ponderous -> Bitter Sweet Symphony

Raining -> Banana Pancakes

Overcast -> All good things come to an end

Heading downtown -> Paper Planes

Showering -> Snow (Hey Oh)

Seeking quiet inspiration -> Lough Erin Shore

Narcissistic -> Neon

 

No one is in hearing vicinity -> A Thousand Miles

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Key

It's been more than a year since the last time I was in Chennai. I knew that I would miss home, friends and the city itself. It somehow never struck me that I would miss Tamil.

I had taken Tamil as a second language till my twelfth standard, mostly because everyone else took Sanskrit and French and I had to be the non-conformist. It definitely did not help boost my grades in the board exam and I hated memorizing stupid answers to stupid questions. My mom had to undergo a lot of my incessant ranting about how a lot of what Thiruvalluvar said didn't make any sense.

"How can a man be a tree?"
"No, he is saying that an inconsiderate man might as well be a tree."
"I feel bad for the tree."

Thiruvalluvar used to write sets comprising of 10 couplets each and each set would extol a particular virtue. And more often than not, the last couplet of each set would claim that there was nothing greater than that particular virtue. "Amma, idhulla logic-ae illa!" (“Amma, there is no logic in this!”) I would shout out. And my mom would nod her head and ask me to repeat all ten couplets to make sure that I remembered them all. There were other poems where the female protagonist would constantly complain to her 'thozhi' (girl friend) about how her lover had abandoned her and I always hated the thozhi for not having a life of her own. I also absolutely despised abstract poems and I would deliver a standard dialogue to my mom:

"Idhu English'la translate panna kooda oru mannum puriyadhu, thamizh'la... exam'la pass-aana maadhiri thaan." ("This wouldn't make sense if it was translated in English, I'm definitely failing my exam").

And she would nod understandingly and try to make me understand the incomprehensible poem.

Today, while wasting time on YouTube, I came across this song from the movie Bharathi. It suddenly brought back a flood of memories (I succumb to nostalgia way too easily). Very rarely did I enjoy opening my Tamil textbook, but I do remember those rare moments of joy vividly. I think it was in the 6th standard when we read about 'Veerapandiya Kattaboman' and I remember how I used to say his speech out loud and ask my mom if it was better than Sivaji Ganesan's version. I would read aloud Bharathiar's poems and marvel at his skill of saying so much, and with so much force and vigor, with such few words. I used to see the pictures of the students who had topped the state in Tamil, at the back of the 'Konar Tamil Study Guide' and I would convince myself that my face too would one day adorn that poorly designed back cover. I missed out narrowly on that accomplishment though (was only 40 marks short of the State Topper).

It's not usual for me to start reminiscing about a language while sitting bored out of my mind with my Networks homework. I complained and grumbled throughout my school years about how much I hated studying Tamil and about how it was not going to be useful to me in any way. Today, I read some of Bharathiar's poems for the first time in about 2 years and I got goose bumps.

Alphonse Daudet wrote in his short story, 'The Last Lesson', "When people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language, it is as if they had the key to their prison." While Daudet said that in the context of his story, the line resonates. Being able to read and enjoy Tamil literature, sitting thousands of miles away from where it was born, is a wonderful comfort.

Thanks mom.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

5 Things I Learnt From My Seattle Trip

1. Do not say "you too" when the ticket checker at the airport says "Have a safe flight."

2. Wear pants that don't fall down during the security check. But more importantly, why do they want to scan my belt?

3. If a cab driver asks "Where in India are you from?", say Chennai, not Madras. Otherwise, the cab driver will butcher Tamil just to show that he knows that Madras and Chennai refer to the same place.

4. Mention 'mild spice' when ordering pizza from an Indian pizza store to avoid eyes welling up while watching Seinfeld.

5. Remember to change the time-zone on the phone before setting an alarm to wake up for an important interview.


P.S: Shameless un-related plug - A Man Of His Own Terms (A Tribute to Sourav Ganguly)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For The Memories, For The Love

I woke up an hour ago. I got an sms informing me that my paternal grandfather had passed away.

I struggle to put together words but I must. The least I can do is to write about him, at least the way he affected me.

My first memory of Nana Thatha is when I was about 2 years old. We were sitting in the living room in our home in San Jose. I was playing and he asked me to come sit next to him.

"Un peyar enna, theriyuma?" (Do you know what your name is?).
"Neeyuntha", I replied without excitement.
"Illa!" (Nope).
"Aaaaa aen? Adhu en peyar." (Why? That is my name).
"Illa, unakku rendu peyar irukku." (No, you have two names).
(I now sit up straight with an excited look).
"Madhuri'kkum rendu peyar irukku, theriyuma?"(Even Madhuri has two names, did you know?).
"En peyar enna??" (What is my name??)
"Un peyar Ranganathan." (Your name is Ranganathan).
"Enakku Neeyanthaaa've pidichirukku." (I'm fine with Niyantha).

Four years ago, my cousins and I were playing Kaun Banega Crorepati with 'Who wants to be a Millionaire?' question cards. I got to be Amitabh Bachchan and on one question the contestant wanted to 'Phone a Friend'. So I picked up my cell and dialed my home number.
Nana Thatha picked up and I bellowed through the phone, "Main Amitabh Bachchan bol raha hoon!".
"Chi phone-a veyyu da" (Chi, keep the phone down).

Nana Thatha was a learned man, and extremely good with words. His book on Iraq and the USA during the tenure of George Bush Sr. got published a few years ago, and I was so glad to see that smile on his face when he got his copy of the book. If you are someone who writes, I bet there is nothing like the sight of the first copy of your book.

He was a wonderful man. He was able to raise, with his wife, 4 children who are all now settled and successful. He cared for his grand children. He loved talking to me, speaking to me in his trademark style. "Boy, come here", he would always say when he saw me walking out to play Cricket. The foolishness of my age made me come up with excuses but I'm glad he persevered. I was lucky to have a grandfather who loved and cared for me and the rest of his grandchildren as much.

Nana Thatha, I will forever miss you. This post was an attempt by me to accept your death. I thought that maybe if I wrote it all down, I would stop crying. But I will stop, and I will accept what's happened.

Thanks for being there for me all these years.

Love,

Niyantha

P.S: Please leave a comment if you have met my grandfather and would like to share your memories of him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time wasting tactics to avoid studying Differential Equations:

1. Doing a vanity search.

2. Trying to take a 5 minute power nap and waking up drowsier.

3. Watching Charlie bite his brother on YouTube.

4. Getting nostalgic and going through Sachin's scores from his first test series (Cricinfo has everything!).

5. Checking my reflection on the laptop screen.

6. Learning how to say the ten most commonly used French phrases via an instructional video on YouTube.

Comment allez-vous?

7. Looking at the sun shining brightly outside and reminiscing about the extremely hot and humid days back home in Madras. Good times.

8. Staring absentmindedly through the window thereby freaking out people passing by.

9. Yawning for a really long time.

10. Making a pointless list.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How I Spend My Sunday Morning

  • Wake up one hour after the alarm rings.
  • Curse loudly and exclaim that I have so much to do with so little time.
  • Sit with my head on the pillow for 30 minutes wondering what I could have done if I had woken up an hour earlier.
  • Realize that my room-mate has woken up and so I jump over my bed with alarming athleticism and run into the bathroom.
  • Brush my teeth with a smile on my face as the water flowing from the tap partially drowns my room-mate's curses.
  • Come out with a sense of accomplishment (squeezing out toothpaste (correctly) takes skill) and avoid my room-mate's gaze.
  • The room-mate orders me to play some good morning music and so being the hopeless romantic, I play an assortment of Tamil music where the hero beseeches the heroine to give him the time of day.
  • Try to ignore the room-mate singing along.
  • Make myself some Nescafe coffee which is always heated for a minute and 20 seconds in the microwave.
  • Drink the coffee and catch up on the latest’s news of the day (movies.sify.com is a great resource).
  • Glance over at the pile of books on the table and then sigh loudly only to hear the room-mate shout "Stop cribbing! You know how much I have to do? I have two midterms, two interviews..............."
  • While slowly zoning out the room-mate, realize that the imaginary fans of my blog would probably appreciate an update on mendelismental.blogspot.com.
  • Finally understand that if I do not open up the scary looking textbooks soon, I will draw a blank on my three midterms coming up.
  • Scared out of my mind, I decide to watch The Office to forget my worries.

It’s time for lunch!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hmmm

I was looking at the search keywords leading into Nazar on Google Analytics and I came across this:

Click to enlarge


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Proud to be lame

What did the Java programmer say to the C++ programmer at their 10 year college reunion?




"Long time, no C!"

Friday, October 03, 2008

Conversations - 2

(We are watching the VP debate on CNN. K and J are room-mates. B, Is and A are my room-mates)

K: Wow, your apartment is clean now.
Me: Yea, I cleaned it up yesterday.
K: You think I'm gonna fall for that. I heard you called a maid.
Me: Yea...
J: You guys called a maid?
Me: Yep, you saw how the kitchen was.
J: I felt so weird when I had to call a maid for the first time.
Me: So, you've called a maid too.
J: Yea, but I had never called one before.
Me: Well, yea. You lived with your parents.
K: It was weird at first but then when we found out that the maid service was booked for a whole week, we felt a lot better. Everyone does this shit!
J: How did your kitchen get so dirty?
Me: Well it started in the summer, when there were 5 people living in a two bedroom apartment...
J: Ah.
B: Me and Is cleaned up the living room and the bedroom. The kitchen was supposed to have been cleaned...
J and K: Ahh....
Me: I mean, yea, I was supposed to clean it, but see I did. I threw away the dirty dishes and A was supposed to get rid of the flies.
J: You guys had flies?!
Me: Yep, and A's solution was to attack flies with the hose of a vacuum cleaner.
J and K: WHAT!
B: Yep, we were watching TV one day and we suddenly hear the vacuum cleaner at work. We thought A was vacuuming the carpet but we turn around and we see him trying to suck the flies into the vacuum hose.
Me: It was hilarious, but completely unfruitful.
J: It kinda makes sense that the flies would get sucked in...
Me: Yea, but when they see a tall guy with a vacuum hose, their natural instinct would be to fly the hell away, right?

We then notice that the debate is going on.

Me: Did Palin just wink at us again?
S: No, she was winking at her dad.
Me: Great, now I don't feel special anymore.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Getting back that lost form

I've been opening the batting in the last 4 games for my league team and I've made scores of 0, 1, 0 and 0. It's a bit like how Marvan Atapattu used to bat when he first played for Sri Lanka. Only once have I lost my wicket to a good ball. The ball pitched outside off, swung in and sent my middle stump for a walk. There was nothing left to do but nod at the bowler for cleaning me up with a beauty, and then trudge back to the pavilion (two benches separated by a barbecue grill).

I used to relish opening the batting, but now I shudder to even think of facing the new ball. I've struck the ball thrice in the last 18 balls that I've faced (and two of those shots resulted in me getting out caught and bowled) . Venkatesh Prasad would do better than that against Wasim Akram.

I was able to justify picking myself in the 11 in spite of these terrible scores because I was doing really well with the ball. I was getting the ball to land on the right spots and the opposing batsmen were actually playing me out with the hope of trying to go after the other bowlers. But there are only so many failures you can take before anger and disappointment sets in. The previous game I was tonked for 26 runs off two overs and we lost the game in 11 overs.

I guess the only way to get back the lost form is to drop myself down the order and hope for a bit of luck. I know that my confidence with the bat is just a fluent cover drive away.

Harsha Bhogle often says, "When you're out of form, you see the fielders. When you're in form, you see the gaps".

I see the gaps alright. I walk through them, back to the pavilion, everytime I get out.

Update: This is unrelated to the post but this is a link to an absolutely fantastic article by Rohit Brijnath on Cricinfo. He talks about how the fab 5 of the Indian Cricket team have been such an integral part of the life of every Indian who followed Indian Cricket since the 90s. The last sentence of the article gave me goosebumps.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The sky?

"What's up?"

"Nothing much."

A day does not pass by where I don't hear the above conversation.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Conversations

Yesterday:

A is watching Alexander on TV. 

Me: (Smiling proudly) What do you think of my new hairstyle?
A: You look like that Computer Science PhD student who sleeps in the lab.

(5 minutes later)

Me: I'm not sure if I should keep my beard. The career expo is on Monday.
A: (no response)
Me: Should I shave it off?
A: Shave what off?
Me: My beard.
A: You don't have one.
Me: Of course I do. See!
A: I don't see anything! 
Me: You're just jealous.
A: (no response)

Today:

Me: Hey.
M: Hey.
Me: Jobless as usual?
M: No, I have a lot to do. I just don't want to... hey, are you trying to grow a goatee or something?
Me: Yes! (broad smile)
M: Okay...

You know you can do better when the high point of your day is someone noticing your facial hair.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rediscovering the past

I saw the movie, 'The Butterfly Effect', a few weeks ago and ever since I've started analyzing most of the things I do and wondering if I had done differently, where I would be currently.

If I had not seen that movie, I wouldn't be trying to make choosing to do research in Computer Science into a life altering decision. One of the great joys of life is the mystery of what the future holds. Thinking about how my everyday actions affect the long term is plain annoying. 

I was reading some of my archived blog posts yesterday. I want to get back to that kind of writing - light hearted and fun. I'm tired of reviewing movies and talking about the Butterfly effect, silence and what not. I wonder if the lack of time to do stupid things has made me a more serious person. I hope not.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rock On!! Movie Review


It is good to see Bollywood movies breaking the norm, because for me a Hindi film that is not run-of-the-mill is worth seeing. Rock On!! starts off with 4 guys tuning their instruments in a 'studio' that could only be called that because the acoustics of the dilapidated room seem to be good enough. We get a glimpse of how they go about making their music - Aditya (Farhan Akhtar) explains the theme of his lyrics which is to ask the most basic of questions (Why is the sky blue? Why is the earth round?), Rob (Luke Kenny) on the keyboard says he will start off with D major as Kedar (Purab Kohli) on the drums jokes that that's the way he always starts and Joe (Arjun Rampal) mentions his contribution to the song on the guitar. It's nice to see how Magik (the somewhat lame name of the band) come up with their music and the scene ends with Aditya claiming that no one 'takes over' in their band. It's immediately evident why Magik ceases to exist as the film jumps to the present day.


With the four band members either still living or trying to escape their past, Rock On!! moves between the past and the present nicely. The present seems to move along a bit too slowly though, but maybe that's because it’s such a stark contrast to the great high of the music that Magik dishes out. One of the highlights of the movie is Magik taking part in a music competition that could give them the break they've been striving for. Aditya brings the crowd into the mix as he makes them go 'na na na na' when he raises his hand and he goes into the zone using the energy from the crowd to elevate what on paper sounds like a pretty ordinary song. Sure, it’s quite unrealistic how the crowd responds to a raised hand but it worked for me and the guys on stage aren't just good musicians, they are good showmen.

Farhan Akhtar likes to make impressive debuts. Dil Chahta Hai was a classy directorial debut and now he takes the lead in a group of exceptionally well cast relative unknowns. The movie is about doing what you love and when you're presented with a chance to follow your passion, go ahead and take it for not everyone gets a second chance. It is a simplistic view and Joe's wife Debbie (Shahana Goswami) beseeches her husband to do what is right for his family rather than follow a dream that derailed his life the first time he chased it. Shahana plays Debbie with the right mix of street smart spunk and the love that she has for her all too innocent husband is apparent when she has a mostly one-sided conversation with Aditya about how not everyone has luck on their side. The rest of the cast do amicably and Purab Kohli getting to play the funny guy, puts a broad smile on your face with his rendition of 'I will survive'.

Rock On!! is, however, longer than it should have been and at times, the director's focus on showcasing the artistic excellence of his shots dilutes the actual emotions that come out from the actors. Some of the scenes between Aditya and his wife, Sakshi (Prachi Desai) seem artificial just because of the above mentioned reason. The ending montage that lets us know what the protagonists go on to become, also seemed a bit unrealistic. But there are more highs than lows in this movie, and with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy doing a great job with the music, you've got a more than decent offering from Abhishek Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar. I like that some movies from the Bollywood stable are pushing the boundaries as to what Indian filmmakers can do, and that's reason enough for me to recommend this movie.


My rating: 7/10

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Full circle at the dumpster

I'm back from Southern California and the new semester starts in a couple of days. As much as I try to deny it, I'm going to be a junior at college. I've got 4 months left as a teenager and I'm pretty sure 20 is going to be the new 13 - neither here nor there. But to happier thoughts now. Following my trip to LA, I have decided that I am going to live for some time, somewhere in California (Malibu would be ideal, but I'm not picky). Is it just me or does the sun just shine brighter in California?

When I left for Cali, the apartment was, to put it extremely mildly, a mess. There were spoons dipped in Nutella hidden underneath the sofa cushions, stuff overflowing from the trash can, boxes and suitcases lying around and a huge mattress spread across the dining area. I lived through this mess for three months and so I had reached a new level of tolerance for all things insanely smelly and dirty. However my room-mates for the year, who had just moved in, couldn't stand the unique smell of stale food and Febreze and so took the vacuum cleaner and went to town on the carpet. When I came back home last night, the apartment was, as Ravi Shastri would say, 'Clean as a whistle' (whatever that means). My room-mates were quite pleased with their work and I was relieved that I didn't have to unclog a toilet or scoop chocolate paste off the backside of a cushion.

Since my room-mates had gone back to India and Dubai earlier in the Summer, I had three new sub-leasing room-mates and so I took care of the bills and they would pay me back. All the bills that I had paid for the month of July had been carefully tabulated in a notebook and I had kept it on a desk so that the residents could drop off their cheques with the amounts specified on the notebook. As I was surveying the clean apartment yesterday, I noticed that the notebook was not in its usual place. I asked one of room-mates, who shall be known as "IS", whether he had seen a book with a white coloured cover. IS replied, "Oh, I think I threw it away while cleaning up the apartment". After collecting my thoughts, I repeated the question just to receive the same answer, yet in a more concerned 'Oh shit!' tone. Another one of my room-mates, who is widely considered to be the smartest person in a 100 mile radius, said calmly, "I guess, you guys just have to dig through the dumpster and find the book".

"We look like classy hobos", said IS as we looked for our trash bags next to the dumpster. Luckily our trash bags were unique and so we narrowed down our choices to 5 trash bags filled with old food and spoons dipped in Nutella. Since I was the only one who had anything to lose, I took out my trusty w810i and started flashing the torchlight as I rifled through one trash bag after another. The wise room-mate announced that he thought we would never find the book when I triumphantly lifted it out of the fifth trash bag. I don't know what I would have done if the book had been lost (I had no idea what each person owed me exactly) and so I was extremely proud of my terribly hungry self for being able to go through the trash at 10 in the night and find the book with the white coloured cover.

The summer had thus ended for me, in the same way as it had started - in the midst of crap, holding on to the one book that would get me my money back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We won a gold?? We won a gold!!!

S: I just got a text. India won a gold...

Me: What?

S: We won a gold!

Me: We won a gold? In what?

T: Hairiest Athlete category probably.

S: I'm serious man, India won a gold... in the 10 meter air rifle. Abinav Bindra won the gold.

Me: Really? 10 meters doesn't seem like much of a distance. Is this a prank?

D: Hey R, check this out online. Maybe someone is trying to play a prank on S.

R: He's right man, Abhinav Bindra won the gold in the 10 meter air rifle.

D: Holy shit, we just won a gold!!!


Abhinav Bindra, I salute you.

Update: Abhinav Bindra receiving the gold medal.


I bold and orange, because I can

Driving without music: I had to wake up at 7:30 in the morning today to drop a friend off at a Cricket ground. At about 4:30 AM I figured that I could do with some sleep before driving 30 miles back and forth. I also decided that I would burn an awesome mix to entertain me when I make the long drive back home. The CD was going to be a collection of Clapton, Mayer, and Jack Johnson songs, but when I inserted the burnt CD all I saw was 'Error' on the stereo display. It is so not fun driving on your own, with no good music and only concrete and more concrete as the sights to take in.

Last Week of Work: At the end of this week, I would have successfully completed my first internship. At work, I have 6 other colleagues who are interns and all of us work in cubicles in a big room. Three of us go to UT, three go to Oklahoma University, and one goes to Texas A&M. The rivalry amongst these schools is pretty intense, but unfortunately all the jabs that we, the Longhorns, have made have been met with silence. The A&M guy likes UT (he is part of a rare breed), and the OU guys don't really care when we make insanely funny jokes (Why doesn't Texas drown in the Gulf of Mexico? Because Oklahoma sucks).

An Indecisive E-Shopper: I have been scouring the web for a good digital SLR camera for a while now. I am an amateur at photography and I did not want anything too complex or too expensive. I finally settled on the Olympus E-410, a very portable DSLR that was in the lower price range. Whenever I need to make an expensive purchase, I get cold feet. Until I start supporting myself financially, I think this trait of mine is going to persist. As a result, I put off the decision for a few hours and when I came back online, I couldn't decide which merchant to buy it from. So I had to do what I always do when I don't know what to do: call mom. After some forceful "Camera vaangu da!"1 from her, I finally clicked the purchase button.

I can now put so much vetti scene with the camera!

California Calling: Right after I get done with my internship, I head off to Los Angeles, California. My sister who has to always one-up me in everything is joining USC after a year in LSE and I'm using that as an excuse to go to my favourite state in the US (Ok, I'll be glad to see you too sis). This time I have the license to drive and so hopefully I can drive down the Pacific Highway - I've heard the view is breathtaking. I would also love to go clubbing in LA, but the entry for the clubs is going to be on the steeper side...

And I doubt my mom will be like "Club-ukku po da!"2.


1 "Buy the camera"
2 "Go to the club"

Monday, August 04, 2008

In My Fourth Semester, I

I usually post my end-of-semester post a week after I'm done with my final exams. This time, a week after finals, I was in London and Paris. Not even my imaginary blog fan could have forced me to write anything during my euro trip, and so now I post my long awaited (you are welcome, Angelina) post on what I did in my fourth semester of college.

In my fourth semester, I

1. finished a self-study course 4 weeks before I had to, but missed the early final because I didn't pay close enough attention to the date of the exam.

2. kept wickets, bowled off spin and took two wickets, took two catches (one as keeper and one as bowler) and opened the batting in a game that we won with a bonus point. Personally one of my better days on a Cricket field.

3. had no class on Friday.

4. got a kick ass car. It was my dad's car but he moved back to India and I was the lucky beneficiary. The next thing to do is to get a custom license plate that reads NEON.

5. wrote a piece on Chennai in chaste Hindi and it was published in a book called Sandesh. Ok, everyone in my Hindi class got published but a year ago, I couldn't even frame a sentence in Hindi.

6. discovered the cold, sweet tasting beauty that is Starbuck's Mocha Frappucino - double blended.

7. won the election to become the Vice Captain of the Longhorn Cricket Club. Gave impromptu speech about how the captain or vice captain is not necessarily the best batsman or the best bowler because clearly I wouldn't have had a shot otherwise.

8. played my most successful April Fools prank to date.

9. decided that the 5-5-5 deal (three medium pizzas for $5 each) from Pizza Hut was the best bet when hungry. The food was cheap and it came to me.

10. witnessed my first ever hail storm. The lights went out, our old rickety apartment started to shake and the dashboard of my kick-ass car that was parked facing the sky cracked. The experience could have been better.

11. did not buy a single text book. I consider this a big achievement since I was naive enough to shelve out $150 dollars for a Calculus book in my first semester.

12. took Micro-Economics because it sounded cool. It turned out to be the most boring class I've ever enrolled in with the professor telling us to remember that the supply curve faced upwards because the word 'up' was in s'up'ply. As a result, I ended up honing my crossword and sudoku skills in class.

13. accidentally used inappropriate innuendo with my Hindi professor in class. We had to use two verbs in the future tense and come up with a sentence. Most of the verbs were used up when my turn came and so I said, "Main so-oonga, tum daloge".

Other Awesome Reads:
Things I did in my third semester of college
Things I did in my second semester of college
Things I did in my first semester of college

Monday, July 28, 2008

A True Cricket Story (All reals)

I left from home at 930 am yesterday and came back at 730 pm as part of the Renaissance Education Foundation Cricket Tournament winning team. The tournament was played by 12 teams over two days. The 8 over games were played with a taped tennis ball, and each team had 8 players. And that's where the simplicity of the rules ended. The first wide in an over cost 1 run but every wide after that in the same over cost 2 runs. The same rule applied to no-balls as well. And to kill the MCC's rule book even more, free hits were awarded for waist high full tosses (and the usual over-stepping).

Our two group games took place on Saturday at the Travis County Cricket Grove (a picturesque ground that we share with another league team). The ground was split into two so that two games could take place simultaneously, and so when I was fielding at deep square leg in our side of the ground, I was also standing at cover point on the other side. Yes, the division of the ground made it a run fest, and we scored 134/2 in 8 overs in our first game. My services were not needed with the bat but I bowled a couple of overs for no wicket. The next group game was against our traditional taped tennis ball rivals (who for some reason changed their name to 'Old Pods'). We had not beaten them in the last 2 games that we played and so we were not a 100% confident that we would win convincingly (but, as a wise man in my team said "win win hai").

We picked up an important wicket early but we weren't consistent in our bowling. In such a small ground, anything slightly short or full was going to be hit for a boundary. The first ball I bowled was a flat off-spinner that was just short of a good length and it was pulled away for six. I then bowled a couple flat yorkers that were played back to me. The next ball was swept away for a four that I felt should have been stopped (I guess the Austin heat did the fielder there). I then took my time for my last ball, and decided to change the pace a bit. I bowled a slow, loopy off spinner, the batsman played early and I got an easy return catch. It felt good, considering I was not required to do anything with the bat. They scored 98 in 8 overs (par score for the size of the ground) and we finished it off in 6.4 overs, for the loss of one wicket. It did turn out to be a convincing victory in the end and we were through to the semifinals.

The semifinal turned out to be more eventful than we would have hoped for. We were playing on the actual matted wicket and against a team that did its bit in pissing us off. They batted first and after about 4 overs, their opening batsman could not run fast anymore because of his lack of fitness. He called for a runner and I told him that he was tired and not injured, and that he could not call for a runner. The umpire over-ruled our Captain's decision and allowed the runner for the batsman. Soon they were running for everything and our bowlers and fielders were getting frustrated. I came into bowl in the 5th over and the first ball I bowled was a full toss on the middle stump that the batsman cheekily paddled away to fine leg for four. He then played a stupid reverse sweep to the point fielder. Following that, I bowled a couple of quicker ones that he confidently picked twos off. I decided to vary the pace again, tossed a loopy off spinner on driving length outside the off stump and he drove it uppishly straight to covers. Their main batsman was out of there.

At the end of the 8 overs, they had reached 79. It was clear that our team was angry and there were talks of sending in a runner with the opening batsman just to spite the opponent. Luckily, better sense prevailed (for the time being) and we started off slowly in what was a much larger field. Soon, the chaos started again. A cameraman from a local news channel had come on to the field to cover the Cricket and both teams were not happy with this. A compromise was finally reached and we played three balls that would not be counted on the score-sheet. Trials, as we call it in street cricket. This seemed to affect the batsmen's concentration and the first legal delivery after that got rid of our opening batsman and we had our captain, PK, and NZ at the crease.

NZ called for a runner almost immediately and we could see that the fielding team were getting incensed. Shouts of 'run, run' from our team seemed to really anger the guy from the opposing team who started all this runner nonsense in the first place, and he showed the finger to one of our guys. My valiant attempts at making my fellow team mates see that Cricket was a gentleman's game failed and now there were quarrels happening almost every other ball. NZ played and missed and was given out because the umpire got intimidated by the appealing bowler. He gave the umpire his two cents before leaving the crease, and PK fell soon after to an accurate yorker.

This meant that I now had a chance to bring my team to safety with the bat. We were 5 down and we needed 23 of 14 balls. I missed the first ball and then took a single off the next. The first ball of the penultimate over was a chest high full toss and I pushed it to covers and started running. I looked over at the square leg umpire for a no-ball call but I saw no signal and so I made the foolish mistake of going for another run to keep up with the required run-rate. The throw was accurate and I was run-out by a distance. The umpire then extended his hand to declare a no-ball. I felt so terrible - I had just put so much pressure on the last batsman.

M walked in and I was to later find out that he said this to our much more accomplished batsman, D, standing at the other end - "When you bat, you do your thing and when I bat, you tell me what to do". The first ball he faced was a free hit and he picked a couple off it, but here's the kicker - it was another waist high full toss and so we got another free hit. The next free hit was a wide and the following ball was another waist high no-ball that was hit for another two. The following free hit was played over square leg for four by M and at the end of the over we needed 4 off 6 balls. 18 runs came off that penultimate over! In the last over, a single and the 2 run wide rule won us the game and we couldn't believe how we pulled off that win.

We then sat for about two hours as another eventful semifinal took place and it had its fair share of disagreements and quarrels. The final began when the afternoon sun was its peak and we batted first after losing the toss. We lost two wickets in the first over and it was clear that we were sluggish after sitting around doing nothing for two hours. It was then damage control time and PK and NZ played off an over cautiously before deciding to tee off. PK smashed a six over square leg and NZ pulled a bouncer over the fine leg fielder. It was great to see two attacking left handers flaying the tired bowling attack. We were cruising at 15 runs/over at a stage but then both PK and NZ got out. We lost some more wickets soon and I went into bat in the last over. I was not in there for long as I played the first ball I faced onto my stumps and thus ended a disappointing tournament for me, personally, as a batsman. We ended up with 106 in 8 overs and we were very confident of pulling off the championship win.

I was asked to take up the wicket-keeping duties since our last keeper had struggled a bit in the previous two games. I took up wicket-keeping in the 8th standard because there was no other way for me to get into the playing 11 of my school team. I love wicket-keeping because you are always in the game and you do get to understand the wicket and the batsmen much better. Oh, and I also like to show off a lot. While the bowler marks his run up, I stand up to the stumps and start practising moving left to right, right to left and act as if I'm stumping the batsman. This act was so successful one time in school Cricket that the batsman thought that I was the Tamil Nadu State Wicket Keeper.

I wasn't required to bowl and I was glad - my head was aching due to the incredible heat and the fact that I hadn't eaten anything but bananas and gatorade did not help my cause. The tiredness did make me drop a catch and then subsequently miss a run-out chance. The batsmen were stranded in the middle of the pitch watching me drop the catch and my shy at the stumps, standing merely five feet away from the stumps, missed the leg stump by a whisker. It didn't prove to be costly as we took the game and the tournament with a convincing 30 run win. And to make it extra sweet, we beat the same team we had defeated to clinch our Twenty20 championship last year.

My Cricket coach in India used to tell me that there is nothing better than to win a tournament with your mates. As usual, he was right.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Remember Shakti: Giriraja Sudha



My favourite part of the video is at 6:04.

One of my biggest regrets is sleeping through most of one of Remember Shakti's concerts in Chennai. My taste in music was very limited back then. I will, however, never make that mistake again.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight Movie Review

Spoiler alert: I do talk about a couple of scenes from the movie.


I’ve never reached a theater an hour before the show is supposed to begin. I had bought my tickets online, but the line to retrieve those tickets extended up to the parking lot. I also greatly annoyed those beyond me when it was my turn to get my ticket – fifteen of my friends stuffed their online ticket confirmation receipts in my hand. But see, I didn’t give a hoot – I was going to see Batman!


I’ve never seen a movie which has ever had to bear the burden of so much hype (the trailer was so kick-ass). To overcome the unbelievable expectations of the audience had to be impossible, right? Seriously man, what a movie!



The Joker is introduced in an awesomely masterminded bank robbery and Heath Ledger plays the villain in a way Jack Nicholson never did. The Heath Ledger Joker is a maniacal villain who does what he does because he relishes destruction, enjoys slowing down the agony. He taunts a police officer in the movie, saying that he knew his friends best because he saw what they really were, when he slowly used his knife to take away their lives.




Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Harvey Dent/Two Face were very good in their portrayals as well, but seriously, this is Ledger's movie. The scene with Batman pounding the hell out of the Joker and the Joker responding with his crazy laughter is one of my favourites. He just keeps laughing and taunting Batman ("What are you going to threathen me with?"). He derives insane pleasure from getting under the skin of a man he dearly wants to unmask.


The special effects and stunts in this movie take a backseat amidst the performances of Ledger, Bale, Eckhart and Oldman (as Inspector Gordon). How often do you see the CGI merge seamlessly with the narrative? The effects don’t take precedence over what the actors are trying to convey, and yet build up the riveting tension that Ledger and Bale love to play off.




There is a truck that does a somersault, and Batman bursts out of the Batmobile in a motorbike – this is very much an action movie. Yet, there is much more. There is a marvelously constructed story that has as one of its main underlying themes what Harvey Dent says in the beginning of the movie – “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”.


My Verdict: 9.5/10

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sleep...it's coming but not really

I fell asleep at 7:30PM because studying for my Government class was just too boring. I'm up now, two hours later, and it feels so weird. It feels like it's the morning but the darkness outside is kind of unsettling. So much for catching up on sleep.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na - A Short Review


When I came out of the theater on Saturday, I was not able to figure out why I was so enamored with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. I remembered looking at my watch a couple of times during the movie (when there is no intermission, 153 minutes is very long), I found the supporting cast of Rotlu, Bombs, Jignesh and Shaleen to border on the annoying quite a few times and the ending was obvious going into the theater (movie tag line:'When do you know its love?').

The movie had quite a few faults, but there were these moments and performances in the movie that just made all those defects seem inconsequential. In the beginning of the initial credits appears the message 'Special Thanks to Naseeruddin Shah'. The marvellous thespian deserves so much more than just a special thanks -he was hilarious as the fearless and violent Rathore from Ranjhore. The movie came to life whenever his portrait did. All his scenes with Ratna Pathak Shah were just class - the two actors were on form.


There were some truly laugh out loud scenes in the movie - Jai's mother uttering 'Voh mera pati ka beta' as she sees Jai riding on a horse through the streets of Bombay, and of course Jignesh inviting Jai for his 'surprise' birthday party. Imran Khan and Genelia, as Jai and Aditi, turned in impressive performances. They had great chemistry and they rocked that final climax scene in the airport.

I'm pretty sure this movie is going to be my new Dil Chahta Hai. I'm going to end up watching this movie whenever there is nothing to do, and I don't expect to stop humming 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi' any time soon.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Music and Moments

I reminisce a lot and I blame the music I listen to for this. Somehow, the moments that I truly remember have a song associated with them.


Anjali Anjali, from Duet, is one of AR Rahman’s best tunes, quite possibly just because of the magnificence of SPB’s voice, beautifully set up by Kadri Gopalnath on the saxophone. The song takes me back to those lazy Saturday afternoons in Madras, when Tamil movies from the 90s would be playing on Sun TV, Raj TV and the like. I remember seeing Duet quite a few times – I would sit eating ‘batchanam’ while my dad would fall asleep on the reclining chair.


I have never mentioned any attempts of mine to woo the fairer sex mostly because there have been close to none. UB40’s version of Can’t Help Falling in Love reminds me of my first real crush. It was hardly love but I remember hearing that song lot those days, and I was listening to it out of necessity rather than choice. I shall leave it at that, for I do love to create the intrigue.


Malargale from Love Birds, another Rahman score for the ages. I remember it being my uncle’s favourite song and he told me about how hard it was to sing to this tune because there were no real beats to help the singers. I accepted that without disagreement (possibly because I was 8) and now I don’t care to find out if that is true, for that could possibly ruin the moment, right?

I’m going to move away from my Rahman obsession for a moment and impress you with my taste in Irish music. Lough Erin Shore by The Corrs was the first song I listened to right after my final 12th standard board exam. I was so tired when I reached home that I just threw my bag away and lay down on the couch, aiming to get some sleep before meeting my classmates later that day. This song was playing on my Ipod and it hit me then that school was over for good, surprisingly something that I had been wishing for the past 13 years.


I don’t remember too much of the first five years of my life, when we were in San Jose, California. Two songs, though, have stuck with me. I was 3, I think, when I first saw Kizhakku Vaasal – too young to understand what was going on but still old enough to enjoy Veetikku Veetikku Vasapadi Vaendum. It was sung and composed by Ilayaraja and I used to watch that movie almost every other day just for that song. I think the video cassette got worn out just because of my repeated viewing. The other song I was jamming to at that age was Kuzhal Oodhum Kannanukku from Mella Thiranda Kanavu. Another Ilayaraja classic and my mom would play it in the car everyday as she picked me up from kindergarten. I think it was mostly on my insistence.






I went to quite a few birthday parties in Madras. My mom’s friends loved to throw these lavish parties for their kids – everyone in sight was invited – and all I really enjoyed was the cake. There was this one party, however, that for some odd reason had Hindi music playing. This was a rare occurrence those days (about 11 years ago), to hear non-Tamil music in a birthday party. It seemed as if they were playing Meri Mehbooba, from Pardes, on loop and that’s when my obsession for Hindi film music began. Yesterday, someone expressed surprise when I guessed what song was playing (Pappu can’t dance) as soon as the singer went ‘this is…’

No near end in sight for this obsession.


Music and Moments

P.S: The Summer issue of Nazar is out, check it out at http://nazaronline.net

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Silence

I find myself seeking silent moments a lot more these days. When I first joined college, I longed for noise because it distracted me from my home sickness. Now, I enjoy 'living the moment', observing the surroundings, in silence.

Yesterday, I was watching that great comedy, Andaaz Apna Apna, with my friends but about half an hour into the movie I went outside and just stood looking at the mess that is my apartment complex. Hardly the best environment, but I enjoyed being on my own for a while.

Silence can be nice.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cleanliness is so over-rated

I did not have any homework today and I got off work sooner than usual. So, I decided to head to Wal-Mart with my room-mates in order to do some food shopping and also get supplies to clean our disgusting bath room.

It felt odd trying to buy supplies for the apartment. The responsible room-mate has gone back home for the summer and so I had to unfortunately take up the mantle. We entered Wal-Mart and immediately started quarrelling about what we should buy first. One wanted to buy vegetables because he wanted to start cooking. Not only was that hogwash (he has never cooked in his life), he also claimed that he wanted to make his own sandwich starting tomorrow. The only problem was that he was searching for lettuce in the cabbage section.

I then asked him to get a pack of toilet paper and he asks me if they have the 'baby soft' kind. At this point, I realized how mature these guys made me seem. I somehow managed to maintain an inspiring calm amidst the chaos (the two guys started arguing about the American army, defense, blah, blah). Before we finished our shopping trip, we bought a mop, disinfectant and scrubbing stuff to clean the disgusting bathroom.

I've never cleaned a bathroom before, and so tonight was a harsh wake up call to adulthood. From now on, I've got to clean toilets, bath tubs, sinks... being an adult isn't as awesome as it's made out to be. The situation in the bathroom was so horrible I had to wear gloves and slippers and then attack it with Clorox and bleach. We also threw in some ammonia in there for good measure and all of a sudden, 'baby soft' starts crying out that the pungent smell of ammonia will kill us all. In high school, I dropped a bottle of ammonia in the Chemistry lab and no one died (I did have to stand outside and think about the mistake I made, though). My other room-mate, meanwhile, did not feel like cleaning the dishes because of the 'possibility' of fungus in the sink.

Right now, the smell of Ammonia is partially compensated by the Febreze that I sprayed with zealous vigour. The apartment smells like a wet towel that has been left out for a day and then dipped in a bowl of ammonia and peach. Ah, the price I have to pay for a clean apartment.

Update: I googled 'inhaling clorox' and found out that it is indeed harmful. I also saw this on Yahoo Answers: "
dont inhale it again i heard of this lady who died because she accidently mixed 2 wrong things together..better safe than sorry"

I slept in the living room last night.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Week In England & Paris (Part 2)

To read Part 1, click here.

Next it was off to Manchester, or so I thought. My sister had made this awesome itinerary for the whole trip but sometimes, things don't always go to plan. We reached the station, which was a 10 minute walk from the dorm, with 10 minutes to spare. Then my sister realized that had she left her id at home and without that we wouldn't be able to take the train. Now, I've always prided my potential to one day run a marathon and so I decided to run to the dorm and back with the id so that we could catch the train. I ran across the street, jumped over a fence, scurried through a park, jumped over another fence and reached the dorm in 3 minutes. I then took a couple of minutes to find the ID and ran back out of the dorm. 4 minutes to go and I was all pumped up.

50 metres down the road and I start to cough. It was 10 degrees celcius, and my legs were fighting a fierce battle with my brain. I slowly climbed the fence, trudged across the park, almost fell off the next fence and then walked towards the station. I now had 1 minute to catch the train and my sister took the ID from me and ran to the platform. I made a final effort to run but I found out that I had lost the will to even walk. The train soon vanished from sight as did my hopes of ever running a marathon of any kind.


Anyway, after I was able to catch my breath, I decided to head to the Lord's Cricket Ground. There are only two sights that have ever given me goose bumps. The first one was when I saw the Taj Mahal at night, and the second one was when I looked out from the dressing room balcony at Lord's, on to the hallowed grass that has meant so much to everyone who has had the privilege of walking on it. It was one of the best moments of the trip and I owe it all to the train that we missed earlier that day.


It was from one sport's spiritual home to another, as I walked about a mile and a half from the metro station to get to the All England Tennis Club. It wasn't as special as the Lord's tour, but still was well worth the walk and the entry fee. They were just setting up for Wimbledon and so most of the courts did not have nets, and the Center Court was closed off due to construction.


There was only one thing left to do in my London Tourist Spot Check List and that was walking across Abbey Road, Beatles' shtyle.


Later that day was the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Chelsea, and I really wanted to see Man U kick Chelsea’s ass. So I walked around till I found a pub that wasn’t packed and then parked myself in front of the TV. Something that I hadn’t really thought through before heading to the pub was that Chelsea is a London based team and so there wouldn’t be many Man U fans around. There were two Red Devils supporters that night in the pub – me and another guy who seemed to support Man U just to spite his friends who were Chelsea fans. It was still fun though, to see the Chelsea fans curse out loud when Ronaldo scored the first goal but the best part was when Terry missed the penalty at the end. The pub went completely silent and when Anelka missed the penalty that gave Man U the game, I jumped up in the air in delight. As I began my descent, the world around me suddenly seemed to slow down – I saw the Chelsea fans looking despondent initially but then their looks changed to anger as they saw me descend from my flight of delight. I was out of the pub and back in my sister’s dorm in a flash.


And now, the final destination of my trip - Paris! I reached the City of Lights, with absolutely no knowledge of French. Well, I could say bonjour but I had nothing to follow that with. Luckily my sister knew the most important sentence a tourist can know when in Paris, "parlez vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)".


We stayed in the Aloha Hostel, where we got an Indian room-mate from Manchester who hated Manchester United, and quite surprisingly the cook at the hostel happened to be from Chennai. Our first day there, we had to cancel our trip to Versailles because of a train strike. We, instead, took a tour of the Louvre, following which I was unable to walk.


There were so many brilliant paintings and statues everywhere that looking at the Mona Lisa did not exactly give me the thrill that I expected. The fact that it was facing the biggest painting in the Louvre did not help its cause either.




After recovering from the tour of the Louvre, we went to visit one of Paris’ more popular churches – the Sacre Coeur Basilique. We took a lift to get up to the top of the hill where the church is located, and I was greeted by a breathtaking view of the city of Paris. There was also a dude showing off his freestyle skills. Check out the video below:



The Eiffel Tower was our next destination. I had previously asked my sister what the big deal was about a tall statue made of iron and then I saw it. There were no more stupid questions from me.



The following day was our last day in Paris and the last day of my trip really, since I was heading back to Austin early the following morning. We had seen an advertisement for a four hour long free walking tour around the city, and since it was free we obviously had to do it. We later found out that it was free only if we did not want to tip the guide. Our guide, Narini, was brilliant – full of energy and it would have been criminal to not give her a generous trip. She took us all around the city – starting at the River Seine and ending at Les Invalides. We walked along the Champs-Élysées, almost got knocked down by the motorists while trying to take a picture of the Arc de Triomphe and heard a 500 year long history of Paris in 5 minutes.

As soon as the tour got over, we went over to the Notredame Cathedral, on my sister’s insistence. I had no real desire to check out the church, mostly due to my painfully aching legs. However, I was SO glad that I allowed my sister to drag me there because it was such a special experience. I was taken by the brilliant architecture of the cathedral and the silence, oh my god, the silence was so beautiful. The whole trip came together for me, at that moment. I had at times been grumpy, silent and might have definitely seemed unappreciative of the chance that I had been given to explore London and Paris. It was at that moment that I was thankful for the wonderful times I had had in the trip and also regretful for the times I gave the impression that I was not having fun – because I was.


Early the following day, I took the London metro for the last time as I got off at the airport. On arriving at Austin, I took the university shuttle and reached campus at about 5 pm. The sun was beating down at me, the campus was deserted and I had to walk up the slope that is Dean Keeton Street, with two heavy bags. But for some reason, I had a wry smile on my face.

My parents have moved back to India, my sister is in London and I have no immediate family nearby, but I felt strangely cheerful. I looked up at the awesome university tower, picked up my two bags and started trudging up the slope, happy to be home.