Jan 23, 2006

Playing session-by-session (and a P.S. on Indo-Pak tests)

In the 2001 Ashes, Australian coach John Buchanan showed how and why he is a famous coach, by virtue of his 'Art of War' reference and displaying everyone that Aus is the dominating force by ticking against the columns indicating each session.. Time and again, one hears about 'taking one step at a time', 'playing ball-by-ball', etc. The idea is, small things taken care over an extended period of time automatically puts you in the driver's seat.

The Ind-Aus 2001 series is touted by most as 'one of the best series ever' bcos the fortunes of each team swung so wildly that it was impossible to guess what is coming, and when the inevitable came, the frontier remained unconquered and lots of us were just catching up our breath thinking what went by. Here is a look at the last year's Ind-Pak series, analyzed session-by-session..

A few points to help you out with this rather long table, which has covered all the 3 tests:

* Blue is for India and green for Pak..
* 'Result' is the outcome of that particular session, whereas the 'score' is at the end of that session.
*'Winner' is judged by taking into account the runs scored, wickets lost, match situation, etc.
*'Overall' is the tally of session-winners at the end of each day..
*M.O.D. is 'Man of the day' - the player whose performance was the best/most significant on that day.

A few interesting observations from the table:
> India dominated most of the test series (24 to 21 sessions) but it looked as if Pakistan scored the brownie points probably becos a) Pak won the last match so 'fresh memory'; b) Pak won the one-day series that followed.

> I have circled certain sessions in the 'result' column (in diff. colors), which, IMHO, were the sessions in which the winner was decided. It is interesting to note that winning sessions towards the last two days of the match is much more important. (sounds obvious, huh?)

> India all but won the first test at Mohali but for the first 2 sessions on the 5th day, which helped Pak secure a draw.

> India was all set to draw the last test at Bangalore before the last two sessions resulted in loss of 9 wickets.

In the context of the current match (2nd test at Faisalabad), had Pak got the wickets of Dhoni and Irfan, it would have certainly put them in a winning position.. And, the fortune of the match lies in the hands of these two guys and the rest of the tail to follow (both with bat and ball). If India can bat till tea today, scoring 250 runs, it can put pressure on the Pak lineup, which has 2 batsmen out of the game. Just 8 wickets to be picked up and few runs to win.. Day-dreaming, am I not?

P.S.: After watching these two dull draws, I feel we are back to the old time when both teams were so afraid of losing that they took the 'caution first' approach and produced draws after draws.. Infact, when I think about it, a 'draw' is actually 'no-result'. (this is with reference to my earlier post on Indo-Pak tests). So, two consecutive draws dont mean that the results of the two games were the same, since they actually produced no results.. confused, huh? I mean, I wouldnt call 'draw' a result. Thus, in Indo-Pak tests, one has to go back 23 years ago, when two consecutive matches produced the same result.

Thus, including draws, the number swells to a whopping 28 tests in a row!!! Most of our cricketers would have been wetting their beds or not even born when two consecutive Indo-Pak matches produced the same result.. (yeah.. that is a good 7 out of the 11 who played the Faisalabad test). Pak is so afraid of losing to India.. Let us hope atleast Karachi test produces a 'result'..

Jan 21, 2006

Pongal releases

Three releases - Paramasivam, Aathi and Saravana.. Nothing much to write about them.. Common things b/w them:
1) Prakash Raj has become Kollywood's Amitabh Bachan.. (he is there in pretty much any new movie.. what happened to his pick-and-choose policy?)
2) Titles carrying the hero's name: You know well what would happen.. a) the hero would not die/go to jail after life-sentence c) hero would unite with heroine.
3) Each has a flashback, which jars at times.
4) Hero commits murders at will and goes to exotic locations for duets with heroine.
5) Very loud villains and 'eeeeyy.. Haaayyy' shouts.. earbuds recommended.
6) Totally forgettable, ordinary music.
7) Vivek.. who just manages to bring out a few chuckles from us.. far from his best.


Ajit looks very different after slimming down.. not as cute as in Amaravathi or Aasai but definitely better than his recent round-figures in 'Ji' and 'Attagasam'. Laila is downright irritating and proves that she is a one-dimensional artist, unless handled by some very 'intelligent' directors (I am referring to Jeeva and Priya, who made her bearable in Ullam ketkumey and Kanda naal muthal).

Seen numerous times with our Captain and Arjun having done the 'Nation saving act from terrorists'. The hero here is neither a police officer nor a military-man but a murder convict. This twist could have been used much more intelligently. The movie seems to show some intelligence by quickly moving to present time but invariably comes the flashback. The villains are shown to be mindless.. they do really silly things. Better than the other two.

Action scenes, racy screenplay.


Nowadays, the name 'Vijay' is synonymous with blood and violence. In 'Thiruppachi' and 'Sivakasi', there was some novel concept, however wafer-thin it was.. In 'Aadhi', Ramanaa has chosen the age-old (*SIGH*) 'revenge for family mass-murder' story which we thought was a really old wine and beaten to death. Having chosen such an old story and spending a good amount of time in the flashback plus the customary 'pre-interval' comedy of Vivek plus the 'kuthu' and 'duet' songs havent really given much time to the director to show any novelty in the execution. There is even a 'family song' in the flashback, which luckily isnt used for the family reunion later.

The movie begins in Rameswaram, with a beautiful Trisha in white dress on the beach helping out a pigeon and all smiles.. within seconds, blood starts to spill which doesnt stop till the end. Here again, there was a twist-cum-coincidence that could have been intelligently exploited.. but alas.. the director probably remembers his more-recent and disasterous 'Sullan' and not his debut film 'Thirumalai'.


Coming after the hits 'Manmadhan' and 'Thotti Jaya', Simbhu has teamed up with KS Ravikumar, the king of small-budget masala movies. They seem to have chosen a wrong telugu story, though. Simbhu has attempted a bit of comedy here and has managed to pull it up well.. but, at times, he goes overboard and reminds SJ Suryah (!!?). Jo, here again, looks like Simbhu's akka and this wouldnt change in the future until he grows some muscles quick.

Very much on the lines of 'Gilly'. Hero saves the heroine from a Madurai-based villain, provides her shelter in his home and helps her go abroad, with both of them loving each other but not conveying it till the end.. Simbhu carries the movie on his energy.. Jo is getting more beautiful with each movie (kalyaanakkalai vandhundey irukku).. Vivek's and Simbhu's monologues at the shopping mall and at the temple are good and enjoyable..

Simbhu, Jo, and the fast script.

Overall, a bad beginning to 2006.

Jan 19, 2006

Numbing numbers

This is a totally personal post (TPP, as I would call during future references).

Ever since I was a child, I had more than enough share of 'vendaikkai' (bindi or Okra) by my mom, saying it is good for my brain, esp. 'Kanakku nallaa varum'. I dont know due to which effect, I started loving maths from childhood.. Soon, numbers started occupying certain 'fixed places' in my memory and I could memorize upto 16x16 tables before my class 5. The numbers from 1 to 1K (upto 1024) are, to me, not just numbers but the members of a well-defined matrix. That helped me a lot whenever quick maths was required.. no need for calculators..

Some are my favorite, and to top all, 6. So many numbers that I got would invariably add up to give 6. Like Tendulkar, 'ten' became another favorite of mine, thanks to my nick name 'Padhu' or 'Pathu'. 10+6=16, which is my D.O.B. A few years ago, when I used to travel by auto in Bangalore, I would keep manipulating the passing-by vehicle numbers to try to get 6 out of them. Just to break the monotonous travel through familiar roads, u see..

Recently, whenever I do any 'routine' stuff, I parallel-process to get some arithmatic going. My favorite (memorable) numbers of late are 6,10,16,23,36, 43, 53,54, etc. each of them has a sweet memory associated with it (e.g., my hostel room numbers, '43'=Love you', etc.). When I wash the dishes, I would look at the quantity of the dishes and the watch and decide that 'OK.. I am going to wash them till this much minutes'. When I wash rice for cooking, I would start counting my 'squeezing rice' the sum of the hour and minutes.

In gym, I would burn 'one of my favorite numbers' of calories before switching to another machine.. While small-distance driving, I would look at the clock and decide, before this minute, I would be at this intersection/road.. During long-distane driving, it is reaching certain miles within certain minutes..

I never overly put any pressure on myself doing such things.. these all are done to convert the boring things into something new each time.. It has found to help me do such things more easily than before.. If any of you have any such 'time-pass' techniques, plz shoot..

Jan 18, 2006

Unique albums

Most of the tamil film music albums are monotonous nowadays.. with a 'kuthu' paattu, item number, duets, 'hero-worship' song and some senti ones. I have found a few albums quite unique in this sense..

1) Kadhal Desam: All the songs were by male singers; in all the songs, both the heroes, Abbas and Vineeth appeared. One of the singers, SPB, who sang a passionate song for both the heroes (Ennai kaanavillaiye) also acted as the heroine's father. And, I think it is the only movie so far in which AR Rahman has sung two full songs.

2) Snehithiye: Just opposite to Kaadhal Desam.. all female singers.

3) Rhythm: Each of the five songs had a theme based on five elements of nature.

4) Minsara Kanavu: 3 National awards for this single movie - Chithra, SPB and AR Rahman.

5) Hey, Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke: Five songs - each composed by different music directors (all debuting).

Jan 17, 2006

A freaky accident

While taking off to Orlando for the Seaworld visit part-2, it happened.. On the I-75 in the afternoon, I was going on the left lane (as usual.. and at max. speed of 80+) when Isaw a piece of tyre rolling away from the highway into the curb on the left.. it was not the usual small piece but of an entire circumferance.. It was amusing, and I was looking ahead for the vehicle which lost it and gauge the situation..

The tyre seemed to merrily go into the grass but then it saw our vehicle, changed its course, came into the highway for a fraction of a second and BANG... there was a huge thud on the front left side and the tyre was tossed into the middle of the highway.. The car started making some little minor weird noises so I pulled over to the curb and checked the damage.. Oh bboy... it had smashed the left indicator lamps and heavily dented the banette. The impact was so forceful that I couldnt open the door fully comfortably.

I called the cops, reported it, but since no vehicle was seen around waiting to be towed, the cop said it was an accident for which he cant claim anybody to be at fault... Fine... still went to Sea World, enjoyed there and came back. The car is running fine.. no problem.. I drove over 1000 miles after that incident in less than a month. A few lessons learnt, thanks to those few seconds...:

*Even a relatively crowdless freeway always requires utmost attention; always look out for the rolling tyres or flying tyres. The tyres are damn heavy and at the high speeds, they are deadly.

*Those in US would have seen a lot of torn tyres on the sides of the highways and each of them must have got their own story to tell. The tyre that ricocheted from our car went to the middle lane.. it could have potentially created a major havoc akin to a chain reaction..

*Maximum alertness required at nights.. a thrown-away tyre even at one of the right lanes on a seemingly bare highways is highly probable.

* One gets only a handful of seconds to react for such 'weird' happenings.. pressing the break after sighting such a rolling tyre, without being aware of the vehicle behind is a sure disaster. Always an eye on the rear-view mirror..

Jan 15, 2006

Coming soon: Karnataka to California - By Road

Recently, I was watching in Discovery channel, the construction of the 'Bridge of Peace' that is being constructed between Alaska (USA) and the northeast tip of Siberia (Russia). When completed, that would be the longest bridge in the world. Of course, building that is pretty difficult, since it has to withstand extreme weather conditions- such as on ice for a good amount of time every year. It is expected to be ready in a few years. When ready, it is expected to bridge the two superpowers of the world.. (can it be still called so?)

That opens up the (theoretical) possibility of reaching US from India in a car.. just that one needs to get visas from China, Russia and Canada before reaching US.. Click on the map below to see the hypothetical pink roadmap from Karnataka to CA..
Not such a long distance, considering that thousands of years ago, some Indians indeed travelled that long distance (when the place of the bridge was a land) and reached America. :-)

Jan 13, 2006

Oru Kaadhal kathai

Prem and she lived in the same street. They used to travel by the same bus to go to their colleges. They fell in love with each other, when they were in their penultimate year of their college. His full name was Prem Anand and she used to make fun of him calling 'POli sAmiyAr' (in reference to Premananda). They were determined enough to see their love through till the end and let their parents know after both get a job. Everything went on fine until few months before their graduation they fought for some silly reason and there was an ego-clash. Final exams time and then there was her father's transfer to another town when Prem was out of station for his project.

Things went so fast, that before they realized, they were in different places. Since he studied BE and she BSc, they didnt have any common friends. He immediately joined his job and went to Bangalore. He felt so heavy and so bad and was wishing that the fight didnt take place. After a year in work, he went to US for doing his MS, completed and got a job there itself. After a while, there was pressure from his family for his marriage. He had to take a decision soon, but he couldnt forget her. He went through all the online matrimonial sites to see if her profile is there, in vain. He gave up his hopes and chose a girl from a US-based matrimony site.

He called up the 1-888- number, entered all the info and finally came the operator: "Hi, this is Nancy, how can I help you today?". That voice stunned him, and he was speechless for a moment.. it rang bells inside his head.. he regained his composure and said "Hi.. umm.. this is pOli sAmiyAr.... I am sorry.. Prem Anand here". There was a total silence from that side too.. after a few 'hello's, that voice said 'Yennadaa.. ennai love pannittu ippo verey ponnai kalyanam pannikkalAmnu idea-va?".

En Iniya Pongal Nalvaazhthukkal!!!

Happy Pongal/Sankaranti/Lori !!!

My work

Some of you asked me to write about my research. Let me begin with a famous quote from Einstein..
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
So, I need to do a lot more of explanation or I better dont write anything at all.

I worked for my Ph.D. on a hot area called 'conducting polymers' (CP). We know that polymers (platics, as we generally know) are bad conductors of electricity; but the CPs belong to 'speciality polymers'. This field is younger than me (the inventors won the Nobel Prize in 2000); one important invention in 1990 was that some of the CPs can be used to generate light when a voltage is applied (just like LEDs). That was one major breakthrough in terms of a huge potential for applications. What are they rivals to? Pretty much anything to do with lighting and colors..

Display technology is one area where they have already been brought in the market. Flat-panelled displays based on liquid crystals (LCDs as we call) can be potentially be replaced by these light-emitting polymers. Advantages? Plenty - light weight, flexibility and processability - to name a few. Imagine how it would be to have a roll of plastics which, when you plug in, will light an entire room.. or laptops with flexible display monitors. Also, unlike LCDs where you have to watch the screen straight (due to 'polarized' light), the displays from polymers would emit light in all directions.. so thats a huge plus too.

One important criterion was to be able to access all the colors required for making a complete display. Visible light has VIBGYOR of colors of which B, G and R are called 'primary colors' bcos you can get all the colors (from black to white) by suitably mixing the three of them. Initial work all over the world in this 'color control' showed that you can access them by using different polymers, each of which has a unique 'band gap', which can be explained as

Color --> A certain energy --> Energy gap --> Chemical structure.

Leaves are green bcos they have certain chemicals with the suitable energy gap (such chemicals are called 'chromophores') whereas carrot is red bcos it has a different chromophore which absorb the sunlight differently. All the things I have said so far form the introduction to my work.My work was to get all these different chromophores in different ratios in the same polymer chains so that it would be possible to fine-tune the color of light emitted. One rule of thumb is that as you increase the length of the chromophore, it tends to absorb/emit light towards the right side of the 'VIBGYOR' spectrum.

So, I prepared a series of polymers with different populations of the 'differently long' chromophores. How different? Statistics helped me in that. My chemistry was such that, according to purely random statistical probability, when I populate my polymer with more and more chromophores, their length also tend to increase. And all the polymers could be made to dissolve in a lot of solvents and cast into films. I used to be proud that time that 'We were the first in the world to prepare soluble conducting polymers with different populations of chromophores'. Those polymes emitted blue, green, yellow, orange and red colors, as we expected.

As a chemist, I improved my own method of making the polymers and studied various properties of all of them. We published it in a reputed journal and a lot of research groups in the world were interested in studying our polymers by different physical techniques. That helped in some collaborations by which my polymers flew from one continent to other and gave some interesting results and publications to me.

PS: I wrote this post in the 'first person' mode bcos you people know only me; but my research supervisor was the brain behind all of my work, so, convert I, my etc. to we, our, etc.

Jan 12, 2006

Best theme music scores

While listening to Pudhupettai, I realized that it had an unusual number of 'music only' bits which were so far referred to as 'Theme music' or 'Spirit of -----' (movie name) etc. I think the first movie to have a separate theme bit was Punnagai Mannan, in which Ilayaraja had used not one but two bits.. AR Rahman, probably thanks to his association with Ilayaraja during Punnagai Mannan, realized its novelty and potential and started applying the concept for his movies more.. Here are my favorite theme musical scores:

1) Bombay: The flute bit is the best I have heard so far.. though the song 'MalarOdu malar indru..' comes much later, the music until then is mesmerizing...

2) Punnagai mannan: The part Ilayaraja had used from 'Nothing but wind' was very famous and sounded 'different' those times.. First time computer-generated music in Tamil cinema..(or Indian cinema itself?)

3) Rangeela: It was called the 'Spirit of Rangeela'.. What a beat it was.. RG Varma had to use 'slow motion' in the movie to rescue his choreographer.

4) 7G Rainbow Colony: Though Yuvan seemed to have been inspired from Spanish music, the score had enough variations and it was interesting..

5) Taal: Beat of passion.. starts slowly and gradually picks up momentum and ends up with a scream (unnecessary and lousy part though)..

The others I have liked are from Anniyan, Dil To Pagal Hai, Kadhal Kondenn and Pudhupettai.

Jan 6, 2006

Indo-Pak Tests ... Swing of Pendulum

(Pic adopted from Rediff)

Recent India-Pak test matches have shown the rapid swinging of the fortunes of a team from one test to another. That is, if you consider it from the last of the four-test series in Pakistan (Sachin's debut series in 1989-'90) till now, there is this trend:

Venue --------------- Result

Sialkot ---------------- Draw

Chennai -------------- Pak Win
Delhi ----------------- Ind Win
Kolkata -------------- Pak Win

Multan --------------- Ind Win
Lahore ----------------Pak Win
Rawalpindi ------------Ind Win

Mohali ----------------Draw
Kolkata ---------------Ind Win
Bangalore -------------Pak Win

Amazing, isnt it? It is probably due to the pressure on the previously lost team to deliver.. fearing backlash from fans or whatever.. the pressure brings the best out of them.. and then, may be, complacency... Out of these ten tests, the teams have won 4 each, while 2 have ended in draws.

Hope the next match, the first test starting next week fits along the line.. :-)

PS: Another duel that is almost as good as India-Pak is, guess what, the #1 and #2 teams in the world... yes.. Australia and India. After the epic Kolkata test in 2001, beginning with the Chennai test, every test has produced a different result. Here again, of the 9 tests, 3 each to each team and 3 draws.. Had rain stayed off the last day of the Chennai test in 2004, oh man, a lot of things would have been different, but that would still have fit the current swing.

Jan 4, 2006


A scene in 'Thavamai Thavamirundhu': Early in the movie, Rajkiran says that he wants his boys study in good school, so that they get to a good position in life and take care of their parents. That made me think again about the concept of parenthood. Though I am an optimist, I cant guarantee for sure the lifestyle and quality of the next generation. The things that genuinely worried me are global warming (there is a wonderful series being written by Krishna da Vinci in Kumudam Reporter), ozone-hole, fluctuating climate, increase in competition and decay of traditional values. There is absolutely no guarantee that they would 'enjoy' their life atleast as good as we did.

On the positive side, the standard of living is improving... we are living in the electronic age, the average lifetime is going up, etc. All that is fine, but having a child is like creating a new problem that doesnt exist at the first place and then trying to solve it. I am not against children.. I love them.. I love to play with them, but the above thoughts are with me for almost 20 years now. Why do a couple have child(ren)? To enjoy their company, educate them, be happy seeing them grow big and also, the hope that they would take care of the parents in the old age, right? Add to that the philosophy that the 'World has to go on'.. I would also eventually do it sometime, but I see a thing of selfishness, involving a third person in all these.

TT offers the picture of the reality; one creates children mostly from selfishness, but the attachment and love with them grow so much that after sometime when the parents realize that the children have grown their own self, they continue to support them and leave it to the mercy of the children to decide on their parents. The question that Rajkiran asks in the end 'Unakkum naan edhaavadhu kurai vachuttenaappa?'.. Ultimate question, which answers the 'selfish' doubts I raised. But, can everyone be like that?

Jan 2, 2006

Florida Indi-Bloggers' Meet

Yeh, it happened at last. I and Deepak met for the first all-Florida Indian bloggers' conference at the Disney Magic Kingdom, Orlando. We were looking forward to the meet for quite sometime, and it was worth the wait. We immediately started interacting as if we had known each other for ages. It was a fun time being among tens of thousands of people on New Year's eve.

Thanks to the huge crowd everywhere, our mobility was restricted; we spent more time on the lines than at the events; walking a few hundred feet had to be accompanied with dozens of 'excuse me's and we even discussed about the necessity of both of us having a cellfone so that we dont get lost.. LOL.. thiruvizha-la kaanama pora maadhiri irundhadhu.. To me, it looked like the park needed a Feng-Shui expert; there were small buildings everywhere and not a single signboard for directions. The map was also pretty bad.

The famous castle, the symbol of Walt Disney Magic Kingdom.

The castle at night

Ocean of people just minutes before midnight.

The fireworks at night on the 'main street USA'

We were sandwiched between fireworks in front and behind us.. this is the view when I turn around.

Look at the clock on the left.. Fireworks during the birth of new year..

'Best of 2005' Poll Results

Let me start the new year with heartful wishes to all of you for a wonderful and positive new year 2006!!! A year from now, when you look back, this should be one of those 'glorious and memorable years'.

The voteboxes for Tamil cinema's 2005 are officially closed, after 20 days. The results are out.. (hold ur breath).. :-)

Best Actor: It was a two-horse race, with the fortunes swinging like pendulum.. Of the 61 votes, Sanjay Ramasamy edges past Ambi/Remo/Anniyan 23-21. Surya's efforts as a cool millionaire and as revenge-seeking STML patient were well appreciated. I think the ladies' votes mostly went in his favor. :) In hindsight, I should have added Rajkiran. Cheran has to be applauded for allowing him to steal the show; but, I was not sure under which category Rajkiran would fit in - Best actor or best supporting actor.

Best Actress:

This was again a predominantly contest b/w Asin and Jothika. The last few minutes of Jo's performance in CM, including the famous 'lakalakalaka' act, helped her cause. Of the 47 votes, Jo has got 21, that is 45%.

What a coincidence that the best actor and best actress awards go to JoSurya.. ;-) Hope and wish they star together in Kaakha Kaakha-like movies.. (of course w'out Jo dying plz)...

Best movie:
While the audience like the performances of artistes doing fantasy roles or the 'disordered' characters, when it comes to quality, Cheran's realistic portrayal of the story of a father has won the hearts of the majority. Thavamai Thamirundhu got 19 of the 44 votes, with Ghajini the next with 9.

Though the movie might not do as good business as its other competitors, its decent show in box office would and should encourage some others to try on such down-to-earth simple, strong performance-based movies.

Best director:
Again, Cheran.. Like in Autograph, he managed well with the twin responsibility of acting and direction very well. He gets 19 of 41 votes; Shankar and Murugadoss equally share 16 b/w them.

Best music director:
A year with only a handful of movies with 'All-good' songs. In his year of marriage, Yuvancomes up with some memorable scores, getting 19 out of the 42 votes, just winning the race ahead of Harris (15). Pudhupettai's songs are a good start to the new year; and I eagerly await a possible Kamal-YSR project. AR Rahman, who was the top music director for so long, has to just score music for more albums to get back his place.

Thanks to all of you who voted..