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Sitting at 15th floor of the Hyatt regency in Dallas, with a night view of the city scrapers in the background, the only thing that flashes is nostalgia. The feeling of growing up, adoring and tirelessly following a true champion in Tendulkar. Suddenly, he is taking one last walk to the 22 yard strip, a test match at his home turf in Mumbai. It must be emotional for many and I for sure cannot hold my tears. It is only a retirement, but wait no. It has been our life in some ways.

Today may well be his last innings with cricket bat in a test match. Stamp of vintage Tendulkar was seen yesterday. Let us hope that he adds a few more of his straight drives and cover drives today.  Never have a farewell touched this close. He was not just a hero, but a pride and a part of my growing up. As he walks to the sunset of a glittering career, a part of me fades from the horizon as well.  The timeless thing of our life, prepares to turn the page! Oh dear life, we have crossed two decades!

It was the last thing I would have ever imagined. Bertrand Russel in a Bollywood movie! Yes, apparently it did happen and this was in the year 1967. Anyway, it is only a cameo role and I am sure Russell didn’t see this any different from giving a TV interview. The posture he used in the movie looked akin to the way he sat during BBC interviews, all of which are now on Youtube. A very pleasant surprise to know this much anyway. The movie is Aman and Russel was acting as Russel himself , whom the hero (Rajendra Kumar) idolize.

I honestly think Bombay Jayashree and Michael Danna did a great job in creating this very soothing track for Life of Pi. However, this caught an unexpected plagiarism controversy while the Oscar nomination is on and a potential felicitation is ringing at the door.

The controversy is surrounding a portion of the lyrics of this track. Apparently, a couple of lines are taken or adapted from the very very famous Malayalam lullaby “Omana thingal kidavo… nalla komala thamara poovo….”, which almost all Malayalaee mothers recites to their babies at bedtime. The slow pace at which this being sung would draw even the crankiest of babies lulled into sleep. There is a sense of nostalgia and cultural belonging this song evokes to all Malayalees and in that sense it is not entirely surprising that a question being posed when a few of the lines of Life of Pi echoed resemblance to Irayimman Thampi‘s masterpiece. Some argue that the lines under dispute are literal translation of the original, from Malayalam to Tamil, but others refute with the claim that it is a common feeling any mother could have and Jayashree only scripted it in her own words. Whether a segment of the song was adapted from somewhere else, still a lot of work had to be done to make this to a wide awakening one and to something like an Oscar nomination. That way, it is touch unfair to simply brag the artists as copycats. At the same time, if there was a genuine adaptation pooled into the song, then it is only fair to respect and give credit to where it belongs. It is a bit sad that this had to be drawn to a public bashing. Getting an Oscar will be a real delight since that also will take Carnatic music trace to the world stage reaching to a broader audience, hitherto unheard of its rich and classical history.

Since we are on this subject, I thought it is a good time to read up a little on the history of the Omana thingal kidavo song. This song was supposedly written by the famous Travancore king Swathi Thirunal‘s uncle Irayimman Thampi. When Swathi Thirunal was born,  his maternal uncle himself a trained Carnatic musician composed this and was apparently sung by the mother Gowri Laksmi Bhai and the royal ladies to put the baby to sleep. The princely baby was all the more special since he was born after a prolonged wait at a time the Kingdom itself was at threat of being dissolved with the British empire having had no foreseeable replacement of a male successor to the King. Swathi Thirunal went on to become a famous King, who being  an ardent Carnatic music follower also produced several masterpieces, some of them are popular even today. Irayimman Thampi as well produced many more compositions including Karuna Cheyvan enthu thamasam.

Besides the rich and soothing music, the lyrics of Omana Thingal Kidavo are knitted with superlatives comparing the baby to the most wonderful things one can see in nature such as nectar in my sight or the bright and charming crescent moon. It doesn’t utter a word about the sleep, but just has many questions posed by the mother to baby as to which among the greatest wonders will match the priceless baby grandeur.  For any mother, none will match her baby and the lullaby carved into the minds of mothers of many generations. Whether they gave credit to Irayimman Thampi or not, the lullaby echoes in several hearts, even today.

Some interesting information on this composition is here. Further information on Irayimman Thampi and his contribution to Carnatic music is discussed by Dr. PP.Narayana Swamy. Renditions of some of the famous compositions can be heard here. A page on Swathi Thirunal is also maintained here. I am not sure whether it is the most comprehensive of his contribution, but has several useful links there.

This week has been filled with a lot of terrible news. First, the Tendulkar ODI retirement, the unfortunate and sudden demise of a young girl in New Delhi due to atrocity by a few reckless men and now Tony Greig’s untimely death making the day all the more sober.

Tony Greig was a pure excitement at cricket commentary. The energy he generates is simply stunning. He has been a top bracket cricket commentator since the 80s and the void that he leaves aside is going to be huge.

I first heard about Tony Greig (much before seeing him on TV) was while reading about a book on the English Australia test match rivalry where some match in the 1970s in which the former Aussie (again sadly demised) David Hookes’s hitting Tony, the then English captain, for five consecutive fours. It may not be a big thing in the modern era, but hitting something of that kind in the olden era is something I had fancied (even though I was not really born in that era, but growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had such fancies:-)). Both Hookes and Tony Greig somehow etched in my memory, so did Greg Chappell (the Aussie captain for that series). When David Hookes (also a future commentator, died during a freak bar incident) died, the mood was pensive too. Besides that reading, I didn’t have much know hows on Tony Greig’s days as a cricket player, except may be the fact that I was aware of he being part of the infamous Kerry Packer spin-off league and world series cricket.

What he did as a commentator  however is in clear memory. Some one remarked this on the other day, his now famous remark “What a player” on Tendulkar when he played that famous sandstorm knock in the late 1990s. I also remember many of his exciting comments in the India-Australia series in both 1998 as well as 2001, the finishing stages of the famous Calcutta test match comes to my mind where Glen McGrath walks in as the last man, until given out LBW. I don’t think any other commentator could have captured the finishing moments of the greatest test match of all time, as captivating as Tony Greig had done. Beside reading the game very well, the great thing about Tony Greig was that he was also a commentator who had understood the dynamics of cricket fans all over the world. Fans to an extend got what what they wanted and they could in some sense associate to him.

A few weeks back, I had read the sad news about his lung cancer diagnosis, but never realized that was this serious. He will be missed by fans all over the world, big time. Many a times I got the feeling that he has a special liking for Sri Lanka and its cricket! But I could be wrong. Whatever it is, he was loved all over the world. RIP Tony Greig! Thanks for the memories.

Ever since I heard the story of a young girl brutally raped in a moving bus in the capital city of my home country, I was restless and furious. It was not the first time, I’d read or heard about a rape story from India or for that matter from anywhere else. Time and again we hear these kind of brutalities and this happens and can happen any part of the world, not just the Taliban hit areas. Among the thousands of such incidents, only a few gets reported in public, a fraction of it gets to the mainstream news media and a smaller percentage reach us; And let us don’t forget, not many girls/women dare to say such incidents in public, with all the social pressure surrounding them.  Even in this modern society, woman and children largely have to live under the ego of a cruel world caricatured by sadism. It pains, it hurts and I am ashamed of myself not able to do anything to stop this suffering.

Think of this. A 23 year old medical student , an adult girl, is traveling with her male acquaintance in a capital city of the largest democracy in the world. Mind you, it is one of the most populous city in the world (with a population of 14 million. That means, there are a lot of folks around; For a comparison, this in count is more than that of a city like New York!) with all the central and state government establishments including the police administration in the vicinity! The girl and boy, to their innocence were lured to board a bus and to their misfortune, it turned out to be the wrong bus. What did the 6 wicked men in that bus do? They hit the boy on his head, dumped him on to the road; What happened then on is a mockery of what civilization should be.  In a moving bus the girl is brutally forced on by senseless men, one by one. All the while a helpess girl is being tortured, the bus moves around the city where police men patrol around, without noticing anything beyond normality. The girl in unconscious state is finally thrown out from the bus after all deed. She stays motionless for hours on the roadside before some medical help comes on her way. The police, government (both state and central) administration(s) turns first the blind eye, then a denial and eventually an eyewash damage control exercise.  Even after many days, the girl is battling for life. She has multiple organ damages, including intestine, liver and brain. When things got into dangerous situation, the government shifts her to another country, apparently a political move. Whether it is political or medical, the situation is grim! What a sorry state our society is in!

As usual, this news took people to streets. Naturally people are angry and they protests against the lackluster response from both state and central goverments. As always, some section tried to get some political milage out of this. Reality however is this. The biggest sufferers in cases like this are  the girl (in this case the boy too) and their families. They end up paying a very very high price for the recklessness of wickedness in our society. The elected government and its administration could have taken this as a last warning to engage a strong political and social change. Unfortunately, the leaders by and large miss the point. Few from the government dared to speak and whoever opened the mouth (like the President’s son) made a jock of  their senses. The mainstream media on the other hand is debating what punishment is ideal for the culprits, but the larger point should be: what are we doing as a society to prevent such atrocious incidents?

Praveen Swami has written this piece. Largely, I agree to his points. The solution to this social menace is not hinged on whether the culprits gets death penalty or not. Some may argue a Shariyath like law (arm for an arm, eye for eye or blood for blood method) is the way. Frankly, none of these post incident punishment alleviate this massive menace. The problem as Swami articulated here, is integrated in our social scheme of things. He rightly pointed the way the mass media, mainstream cinema and even the social stigma of son worshipping all directly or indirectly adding the bias to increasingly misogynic society of us. While the west also have cases of rape, the numbers are less because they have at some point in the past went through a political and social refinement, where the fundamental right of a woman to say no and a man to treat her no as a firm no. Again, this is not something that happened in Kandhahar or the tribal areas of Taliban hit Afghanistan, but the capital of the the largest boasted democracy in the world!

While the vast majority in any society will strongly condemn an act like rape, how many will respect the dignity of a woman travelling in any part of a country like India. Again, this problem may not be just India specific, but I have seen men’s colors even in buses in Kerala, a state socially way forward compared to the rest of India. As a matter of fact, you wont see woman in a bus after 7 PM in most part of Kerala too. The other parts of India may be even worse. The cities may be better off to stretch that 7PM mark to say 9PM, but thats it. Mumbai may be an exception, but even a city like Mumbai I wouldn’t count to be safe for woman. It will be a happy news if I hear otherwise. Bangalore, even with the celebrated success of modern life is unsafe for woman. I dont have the numbers, but during my stay there, I have heard far too many cases of woman employees getting assaulted, raped and at times murdered (Just do a google search on woman safety. You will hit through several of them). I am sure every city and small towns in India will have a gruesome shade of such a sad reality. No amount of police force can resolve this, in many cases they are the problem themselves, but things don’t stop even with them. It has to come from each one of us, from early stage to respect every one on their privacy and their right on individual freedom and choice. No one has the right to bulldoze on others, even morally, let alone physical. I don’t think the rape cases are mere act of sexual assault, they are deep rooted display of dominance of their hegemony. And in any case what sort of pleasure do men get after brutally injuring an innocent girl? These are beyond our senses. When will we as a society grow up to stand guard to our own sisters and mothers? Borrowing Bertrand Russell, “I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot and hence I too suffer”.

Let us turn clock for a few years. Does anyone remember Aruna Shanbaug? Some may have forgotten, but she comes to my mind every now and then. I don’t know her, but ever since I heard about her (first time I heard was several years ago during the euthanasia debate) my bloodstream freezes at times. She is the living martyr of male recklessness. As a young nurse in a city hospital, she was brutally raped by a servant boy. Why? As a vengeance  for reporting a crime committed by the boy! Ever since then, she stay motionless, a life merely existing as a symbol of our social cowardliness. What punishment the culprit got is immaterial. The young woman, who was supposed to have soon got married to a doctor, sacrificed a good life for our social reckoning! Her case is largely forgotten. We got many new cases to ponder, but we failed to grow!

As I write this up, I just heard the news on NPR (yes, the news gets reported even in my KPBS car radio here in San Diego, while I was waiting for my daughter from the piano class) that the girl eventually succumb to injuries. She sacrificed her life. Just imagine, she was an aspiring medical student. She had a whole life of her choice had to be ahead. But for the callousness of few men, we had to see her go. What a shame! Aren’t we all responsible for this one way or the other?

Whether the insane gang of six stupid men gets death penalty or not is irrelevant. Our wicked society just threw our sister to the fire. The slow government acted ever slow and everyone in the administration will find a way to excuse themselves. The media will find another sensational story and latch on to it. Leaders like Abhijeet Mukharjee will again get re-elected (For record, a portion of the elected legislators in parliament and state assemblies are themselves criminals!). The family of the girl lost one of their own and we lost another beautiful life. Her homage made our lives less colorful. Didn’t it? If only we grow up and stand up to prevent yet another casualty like this beautiful girl. The grim reality is penned by the BBC reporter Soutik Biswas from Delhi. A serious introspection is needed and the time is now if it wasn’t earlier.

Rest in peace girl! Our hearts are heavier!

The IEEE plenary (I was largely following only 802.11 variants, more specifically ac, af and ah alone) was here in downtown San Diego and was largely busy with that. Syria trouble, Rajesh Khanna’s passing away and the horrific theater shooting at Colarado were the other prominent news of this week.

At the IEEE front, 802.11ac draft 3.0 passed the motion. That is the main milestone in terms of ac progress. 802.11af also will have a first draft soon, which is good.

Rajesh Khanna, the super star of yesteryear passed away. I was never into serious Bollywood watching (especially while growing up), but heard many stories of how the young girls worshipped this Bollywood hero in his hay days, writing love letters with own blood etc. Recently, I’d met an Armanian born (now may be in the 50s) Piano teacher  who fondly recollected her teenage days worshipping the hot Indian hero. Well, if you think that is interesting, her mom, now a 90 year old grandma in silver has tears when she saw the Indianness in me; You know why? She was a Raj Kapoor fan!  Anyway, Rajesh Khanna (kaka as he is fondly known as)’s charm had crossed the boundary far lands away from Bombay.

I leave you with a nice view of the Coronardo island and San Diego bay from the Manchester Hyatt.

The news from Syria and the Colarado shooting made the week all the more disturbing.

I was following the world chess championship pretty closely, in spite of the weak media coverage on this. What a treat to wake up in the morning to learn that Anand stays on as the champion. It is an extra ordinary achievement! Gelfand played very well and it was neck and neck until the games progressed to the fast track mode.  Even there, it wasn’t that sunlight  separated the two great players, but in the end Anand had that little extra and that can make the difference at the highest stage. As always, staying at the top is a harder task than reaching there. Stupendous champion!  Anand successfully did that not just once, but now three in a row. Salute the champion!

It is a mind blowing journey that Anand, who almost without any serious chess legacy in Indian schools (unlike USSR where chess was built into the Soviet system among kids) walked up and then conquered the world stage. Now he has successfully defended three strong stalwarts themselves Kramnik, Topalov and now Gelfand, all arguments must cease. Way to go Anand. You made my day and likely that for many others too. Feel proud!

Memories roll back to 1995 when Anand was challenging Kasparov at the World trade center event. It was much hyped and spiced up then. I remember Anand winning the 9th game and then Kasparov hitting back, much in expected lines from the great Kasparov,  albeit to the disappointment of many Anand fans.  Almost 20 years on and we are in different stage and Anand remain calm, so does the champion in him.

A Facebook feed (through a friend) led me to this nice article on Sachin Tendulkar. The title is “Point to Cover” and the author is Senantix. I liked the Bayesian view of Tendulkar’s performance. Quite simply true. Often, the short memory and incorrect assumptions lead to most of the controversies and criticisms against Tendulkar. As they say, Bayesian can never go wrong!

P(Sachin fails| crisis) = [P(crisis|Sachin fails) x P(Sachin fails)]/[P(crisis|Sachin fails)xP(Sachin fails)+P(crisis|Sachin does not fail)xP(Sachin does not fail)]

I heard about the Indian agricultural minister Sharat Pawar making such an atrocious statement on the highly dangerous pesticide Endosulfan. According to him, Endosulfan is a good thing. Holy cow. What an insane statement!. Someone sitting in the ivory tower with the rich cricket administration under his tummy, may not have to be overly bothered by the hundreds and thousands of lives already ruined by a dangerous pesticide. A pesticide which is banned in pretty much all the developing countries, is enjoying 70% market share in the largest democracy in the world. That shows the will and responsibility of our government. Kerala is the first Indian state to ban this pesticide. Why wouldn’t they. Their state, the northern Kasargod district is the worst hit by the hazards of Endosulfan. Hundreds of people are still suffering from the genetic impact of the dangerous venom, Endosulfan.

According to this, Endosulfan export from India is worth 180 crores. The largest democracy in the world has no time and seriousness to protect its good majority of poor people. The Endosulfan tragedy is rated as the disaster whose magnitude is next only to the Bhopal gas tragedy. It is so sad that, the government is so sick in their drive on corporate responsibility.

Here is a video revelation of the nonsense pesticide that Sharat Pawar think is good. For him, the IPLs and the billions along with that is more precious than the millions of suffering elsewhere. Shameless.

I just caught hold of this bizarre news from a recent verdict by a lower court in India. A community serving NGO doctor is sentenced life term for some strange accusation. Dr.Binayak Sen, a Vellore medical college alumni (Vellore medical college is one of the premier medical school in India) is serving the poorest of poor in one of the north Indian state (Chathisgarg).

Some stomach upset over the last couple of days prompted me to switch off from any serious activity. To make matters worse, I injured my groin too. Anyway, that in a way forced me to read up a bit of news and contemporary stuffs. Two good articles came in my way.

Amazing article by Sainath, “Narcissism of the neurotic” Must read.
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article834612.ece?homepage=true
An eye opener on the Indian media:
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article907823.ece?homepage=true

I had written a few words already about many of the Indian media houses. One word suffices actually, “pathetic”. Now the latest expose is a formal confirmation. Bharkha Dut, Vir Sanghvi are taken off the cover.

http://www.dnaindia.com/blogs/post.php?postid=318

Just heard about the 2010 Hay festival was held last week in Thiruvananthapuram. Although I couldn’t have gone there, it felt nice to have had such a great global art and literary event in my own home state in India. The official website hosted some amazing scenes from various parts of Kerala, which to an ardent Kerala fan like me wished to see  all times. The Hay festival of arts and literature has become quite prominent in the public media, recently and what better place to have it, than the beautiful and literary rich Kerala!

Thanks to Youtube, I could gather glimpses from the event. Part of Vikram Seth‘s Storypooja is captured here. The one session, I would have liked to attend is Marcus du Sautoy on “The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life“. I hope to see a video tape of this program online sometime soon! After all, Marcus claimed to have had a reason for everything, including why bend it like Beckam! Another of my favourite is ONV Kuruppu. His candid and lively talk is an anytime favorite of mine. He was supposed to have had a conversation with poet Sachidanandan. And, how much I missed Bob Geldof‘s conversation, let alone his concert!

The Human Resource Department of India, aka HRD ministry made a mockery of itself by doing a foot in mouth call on the nationality of the world chess champion Viswanathan Anand. The Indian citizen who lives in Madrid for logistic reasons is denied a honorory doctorate for insane mess created by the HRD ministry. The reason: He is not Indian! Anand’s wife Aruna, understandably upset by the wrong call from the HRD, duly sent a fax of the Indian passport that Anand holds, but the HRD ministry was still not convinced. What  a piece of joke!  This is not the way to salute a world champion and our own citizen. All this happened in the eve of the ongoing International Congress of Mathematicians held in Hyderabad. Only a blog post earlier I wrote about the thrill of India getting a chance to hold ICM. Now, the hopeless HRD ministry found a way to make a mess of it. What  a shame! They also managed to rebuke the famous Algebraic geometry guru David Mumford. Neither Anand nor professor Mumford needs these extra certificates to proclaim what they are. They are already stellar figures in their respective fields of expertise. The manner in which they are toyed is what annoys people like me and it is simply unacceptable. These are not the signs of a country claiming to become the next super power. Neither this is the way we as children were learned and taught to respect the elders and guests.  Athithi devo bhava, but not to be!

“One man, two hundred!” was the caption, BBC world news displayed, while broadcasting the (breaking out) news of the world record hit by India’s super star player Sachin Tendulkar.  It was against a formidable South African bowling attack in a one day international cricket match at Gwalior, the little master decided to showcase his fabulous reportoire of pure shot making on a cricket pitch. He has done it so many times in the past, but yesterday was a day when history book needed a fresh page. The first man to score 200 runs in a single innings of a 50 over match is stamped with the name Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. What a feat from a great crciketer and amazing human being!

Times has published a truly nice article commemorating this new record. Cricket is not wideley popular in all parts of the globe. The United States is not among the cricket frenzy nation either. England and her former colonies are the main countries where the game took the center stage over many years. As for records, cricket is the second most popular game in the planet, after soccer. The article hence put the new feat in perspective for the non-cricketing community. Come to think of this record, we must realize that 200 runs need to be scrored from a maximum of 300 deliveries (excepting illegal deliveries such as no balls). On the average one batsman can hope to get about 150 deliveries. In baseball analogy, this is equivalent to getting 150 pitches. It seldom happens that one get more than this. That means, one will have to consistently hit the balls at a rate exceeding 100% strike rate. Tendulkar achieved the score in 147 balls, at a strike rate of 136.5%. It calls for multiple virtues including patience, stamina, focus and talent. All have to be combined and score runs at a faster rate.  It is not easy, by any means. It was something fabulous if not more. There have been scores close to 200 in the past by great cricketers including that from Tendulkar’s previous outings, but this one will go down as the best, literally because this came against a top quality bowling attack and a formidable fielding unit of the protease.

Here is the list of the top ODI scores.

SR Tendulkar 200* 147 25 3 136.05 India v South Africa Gwalior 24 Feb 2010 ODI # 2962
CK Coventry 194* 156 16 7 124.35 Zimbabwe v Bangladesh Bulawayo 16 Aug 2009 ODI # 2873
Saeed Anwar 194 146 22 5 132.87 Pakistan v India Chennai 21 May 1997 ODI # 1209
IVA Richards 189* 170 21 5 111.17 West Indies v England Manchester 31 May 1984 ODI # 264
ST Jayasuriya 189 161 21 4 117.39 Sri Lanka v India Sharjah 29 Oct 2000 ODI # 1652
G Kirsten 188* 159 13 4 118.23 South Africa v U.A.E. Rawalpindi 16 Feb 1996 ODI # 1049
SR Tendulkar 186* 150 20 3 124.00 India v New Zealand Hyderabad (Deccan) 8 Nov 1999 ODI # 1523
MS Dhoni 183* 145 15 10 126.20 India v Sri Lanka Jaipur 31 Oct 2005 ODI # 2290
SC Ganguly 183 158 17 7 115.82 India v Sri Lanka Taunton 26 May 1999 ODI # 1463
ML Hayden 181* 166 11 10 109.03 Australia v New Zealand Hamilton 20 Feb 2007 ODI # 2527
IVA Richards 181 125 16 7 144.80 West Indies v Sri Lanka Karachi 13 Oct 1987 ODI # 457

Among them, Richards 189 against the then England may be the one comes closest in terms of quality of opposition bowling. Syed Anwar’s 194 against India is also a glorious innings played by the elegant left hander against India at Chennai. But neither Engalnd nor India will claim to have a strong fielding mastery when compared to the South African unit. So Tendulkar’s new innings clearly own special merit.

It is difficult to comprehend the stardom associated with a five foot tall man. To know this all, one need to be in India. Tendulkar earns the respect of close to a billion souls in India alone. Expectations are at levels beyond one can associate to any moving object. No parallels, really. Every time he goes to bat,  millions glue to the television sets (and now internet).  Social hierarchy still exist at large in Indian lsociety. Religion and politics still separates people. People fight for reasons less than logical, but in the name of religion and castes. It sometimes goes beyond what civilized society can comprehend. The difference between rich and poor is startling. But nothing of that

Numerically there is only a digital swap between 2001 and 2010. Similarities are more instead. Plenty of things were in common between the test match between India-Australia in 2001 and the one between India-South Africa which concluded yesterday. First, they both were great matches. Sheer classics in cricketing parlance, especially test cricket! Nothing can quite scale up to that  2001 epic event, which ended the great Australian juggernaut of consecutive test victories  (and that too at a phenomenal level of domination) but 2010 indeed lived up to the Eden garden’s charm and reputation. With high level of tension and hanging fortunes, Eden gardens was much  like a  grand theater set up for the climax . The balance was between a win for India and survival for South Africa. In the end, quite fittingly India managed to win and gave the home fans something remarkable to cheer about for years.

The final stage had two actors at their imperial best. Harbhajan singh and Hashim Amla. Amla was the epitome of concentration, all personified in human form. Things surrounding him was chaotic and noisy. None of the furies around him however bothered one cool mind of his. Googly, leg breaks, off spin all were dealt with the impeccable calmness. Yet, Harbhajan was the hero emerged in the grand finale. His reaction when Morkel was adjusted LBW has literally pumped the Eden gardens.  That heralded the match, curtains were down on the cricket field, but the celebrations had only began.  Test  match cricket came alive yet again. What treat!

If Harbhajan was the pivotal figure in the finishing stages, one cannot forget Zaheer Khan‘s contribution in the first innings. That one session post tea in day one triggered a possible result in India’s favour.   The stage was well set for the Indian batsmen to drive home the advantage. Boy, did the famous Indian batsmen cash in? The master and student combo were at their best show on day two. The way Tendulkar handled the day and his attacking student Sewhag was amazing. Their innings paved the way for the man who own part of the Eden pitch to come and do a stroll. VVS Lakshman in the company of Dhoni did the routine. When India declared their innings on day three, it was ample clear that India is well within a big win.

The nature had her own ideas to add to the drama. Bad light and rain shared the stage time on day four. But action on the curtailed day favoured India with three top order wickets, including that of the important number of Jacques Kallis. Day five was yet again bright and sunny. Amla stood the ground like a rock, even when things around him followed a different formula. Indian bowlers tried their best, but nothing seriously worked against Amla. The leg before shout by Harbhajan when Amla was in the 70s had serious merit, but that was the lone chance the cool mind offered to the 11 folks. Otherwise he was knocking everything came in his way to still.

In the final stages Tendulkar came to bowl a couple of overs or so. Considering that, it was he who took three pivotal wickets in the 2001 stage, it was a great ploy by the captain. The dangerous opener Hayden, the ever so dangerous Gilchrist and the flashy Shane Warne all were tapped by the magic of Tendulkar in the 2001 classic. But things changed a lot since. Lot of water has flown away under the bridge over nine years. Tendulkar hardly bowl these days,even at nets. Yet, the very second ball almost curtailed the match. One pitched a few inches outside the offstump took a near 90 degree turn and missed the Morkel stumps by a whisker. It was a fabulous delivery.  Not as great as the famous one to Moin Khan, but it still had some magic.  He had done this many a times in the past. So, I hastened to believe that, he was going to have a different script for the final moment. But how can Harbhajan leave his favourite ground without a five wicket haul? It was only fair to have him take that final wicket and seal the match.  As they say, so be it.

For South Africa, there will be disappointment,but no one needs to remind them where they lost the plot. The first day evening proved too costly for them. They were outstanding at Nagpur, but Calcutta favoured India. In all, it was a fabulous test series. It was hastily arranged.If only the cricketing authorities gave it a thought to have a longer test series (by ignoring the flashy one day series)! Not to be! Anyway why complain, when we had two great matches. Long live test cricket!

On  a sunny Lausanne morning, I woke up much later than usual. A game of cricket last evening had its due share in settling my body parts and indirectly in this wake up delay as well. I was all excited to re start working on the one sided set constraint problem which I pondered about a little the other day. After a routine coffee, decided to check Indian newspapers on line and the first news said Kamala Suraiyya’s passed away. To most of us, especially the ones associated with Kerala, she is the one and only Madhavikutty known to outside world as Kamala das. A name change and a religion hop didn’t really bother a secular Malayali. However the truth remains that, she was easily one of the most misread, misinterpreted writers of this generation.

I have not read a lot of Madhavikutty’s major works. That is a shame, I must accept. But I remember reading many short stories of hers, published in magazines, newspaper supplements and weeklies. One of the stories I still remember is  Punnayoorkulam where she touchingly depicts the life of a poor servant. Other short stories instantly coming to my mind are chandana marangal (Sandal wood trees, ചന്ദന മരങ്ങള്‍) and Pakshiyude maNam (Smell of a bird, പക്ഷിയുടെ മണം).  Her story telling style was unique; most notably with her precise and careful selection of words. It is incredible that she could write so well in both Malayalam and English. Not many people know that she was nominated for Nobel prize in 1984.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to know much of her English works other than a collection of short stories titled Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories , which I happened to read sitting inside a book store in Trivandrum during the summer of 1996. That was an experience of some sort. I didn’t have money to buy books then. I used to spend a lot of time inside the book store (thankfully they allowed that) and spend nearly the whole day there. In two days of a week I could read quite a lot. I had restricted visits to two days a week to pretend that I was not exploiting that facility. Nevertheless, over a period, I had befriended with some of the shop guys and they politely let me enjoy this habit, realizing that I was a mere student who couldn’t afford to buy anyway.

Her life and works were dragged into so much controversy. I am not sure whether that helped her to increase the readership. I personally think she was an incredible writer who didn’t need these controversies to claim fame and readership. Her autobiography and the frank style of telling stories created public attention. Perhaps it came at a time when it was unusual for an Indian woman to be that open to express her emotions and life. I do not know much into that controversy, other than learning that it had some. I did not read her autobiography either to judge whether it had some explosive presentation of vivid emotions of a woman. Anyhow, such was her life. Some people would remember purely because of such controversies. Sadly many would have failed to realize the pure writing talent of such a bilingual writer, one of the best Kerala produced. Her death will surely create a void, considering that the language writing has become so thin these days.

Many people in Kerala were surprised when she converted her religion in the last stretch of her life. It was not because of the religion she chose to or the one she was born into. It was more because of the fact that she chose to give importance to latching onto a religion for keeping piece with her life. Anyway, that was her personal choice and everyone accepted it, period.

Madhavikutty’s departure is a big loss. May her soul rest in peace. I leave you with this documentary on Kamala das by Ignou:

Yesudas and Mohammed Rafi singing the same melody: How about that for a treat to the ears? I didn’t realize that they have done it already for us. Rafi singing Jis Raat Ke Khwab Aaye (Film Habba Khatoon) and later Yesudas making that beautiful song Anuraga lola gathri (Movie Dwani) to a classic. I’ve learned that this melody is the creation of Naushad Ali. I am not going to make a comparison between these two legends (Well I am too in eligible to do that anyway). Both are so soothing. I find Yesudas has an amazing skill to vary the pitch with ease and that is perhaps quite critical in Malayalam language. Anyway, I have enjoyed both masters at work.

Sadly, these days, truthful, sensible and objective reporting are missing from many mainstream media houses. This is true globally including Europe, USA and without exception in India too. Take for instance Kerala, a tiny piece of land in the south west tip of India. The media over the past many weeks or months are just doing a masala gaga over silly factional arguments within a section of the ruling party. They go wild to picturize every tiny statements given by leaders and then glorify with their on puerile interpretations. It is a mess, the Kerala media at the moment;to say the least. Where are truthful media and journalists? Is any of them sensible enough to do truthful and objective reporting, sans yellowing the news? In an attempt to sell their masala craps, everyone go mad and go after such third rated reporting. The masala and gosspis can be at most a desert, but that cannot be the main course. Unfortunately, in reality the media changed their roles and glorified the wrong one. 

The Hindu, is the only paper I find as an exception. It is indeed commendable that we have one source to reply upon. While the entire Kerala media was behind gossipping, The Hindu published this report (by C. Gouridasan Nair )on the progress of Kerala government over the last three years. This simply opened my eyes. While the sensational media events otherwise created an impression that the current government is not functioning at all, the truth clearly is the opposite. Surely, the common man do not get to read The Hindu and hence is caught in the wrong net of fallacy world spooned with incorrect information. I am sure that reflected in the vote share too.”

Whither goest thou media? Will you please grow up to be much more sensible and judicial? Thank you The Hindu for standing tall as a true piece of hope in the journalistic world. If only, the other media house learned a piece of your ideology!
http://www.thehindu.com/2009/05/18/stories/2009051854680700.htm

The 2009 Indian Parlament election results are out. The Congress lead government is all set to return for the second successive term. I personally think this is the best governmet at the moment available to the people. Manmohan singh is an able man and largely they seem to have a vision. His last five year term has been one with many accolades and a very few dulls. The Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi seem to be freed of large scale problems within the party. Congress even though have a lot of sycophants, the top leadership acts more or less sensibly to larger issues concerning the nation.

Now this being a clear mandate to Congress, it is an opportunity for them to take India forward with a stronger vision and clearer direction. A vision not merely targeted to improve the India shining media tag or sensex alone, but the one which genuinely helps to scale the rural and poorer section of the population. It is important now than ever to improve their lives by providing education, food and employment. While cities have gathered some colour and prospetrity in the recent years, the villages in many part of India still have a different story to say. I really hope this government begin addressing such issues with utmost importance. We need development stemming from rural areas, because immense potential are to be tapped from that often underprivilaged segment of society.

The defeat suffered by many regional parties which lacked any ethical base in some sense is going to be a blessing in disguise. We have seen over the years, the ugly negotiations between major parties and these swinging parties, in order to hang on to power. Some of them still are in there. I hope we don’t get to see such pity party MPs make mockery of people. I really hope that party leaders like Amar Singh, Mayawati and their respective parties don’t get to play that ugly negotiations.

The left parties, who have always stood as one of the rare political parties in India, for certain ideological standing also do not have much strength in this parliament. While many would consider their less than expected performance as an aid for a trouble free governance, I still consider their standing in many social issues has helped the current government to implement many people friendly schemes. This faiure is also a time for them to introspect into the ugly political factions within their party. As they say, you can learn more from failures than victory. I hope they learn to become a better outfit, by raising above pity individual factionism.

In Kerala, I personally, find the result as a mixed bag. I am indeed thrilled to see Shashi Tharoor winning with a handsome margin. He is surely our next foreign minister, largely because of his UN employment credentials. My wishful thinking is to have him taking up a ministerial portfolio involving rural society. Say for instance agriculture or rural development. I know this may not happen, because these are seen more of second class port folios, with no glamour or media hype around it. My argument however is to have someone who can make that policy vision for the future, which can transform a nation forward. One thing for sure. Kerala, which is often overlooked as a non-important state in national scene will get some preference, because some heavy weights including Shashi are going to be housed in parliament as representatives from Kerala. Apart from Shashi Tharoor, the better representatives are the young CPI(M) Mps such as Rajesh and Biju. Kasargod MP Karunakaran of CPI(M) and Vadakara MP Mullapally Ramachandran of Congress are also known to be good vocal representatives of people in the parliament. I hope they all live up to people’s expectations. Some of the winning MPs are less than useful to people and indeed it is sad to learn about this verdict, especially the ones from Kannur, Alappuzha, Kollam,Ernakulam,Trichur,Kottayam etc. End of the day, it is people’s verdict and we should respect it. We can only hope for these elected candidates to be model representatives for their people.

Meanwhile, the much underrated Laloo Prasad Yadav made it from one of the two constituencies he tried. He has been an amazing railway minister, in spite of his ridiculed public view among elite social circle. To me, he is the champion minister who made the Railway from an organization of deep debt to one of the very successful outfit. Considering that Indian Railways is the largest employment providing organization in the world (claimed to have over 1.4 Million employees!), his contribution is nothing less than extra ordinary. Many people, including your truly had once thought of him as a mere laughing stock, but now he has my respect in lump-some. I hope he continue his promising work and stay as Railway minister.

Elsewhere, the most dynamic minister in the current cabinet Chidambaram just survived a scare at Shivaganga. I am glad that he made it, simply because he is too good a minister to miss out. With Rahul Gandhi in, the new Cabinet is going to have some promising members. Together with many others, including many young and vibrant representatives, we have the making of a very dynamic cabinet under Manmohan singh. I am really looking forward to a more stable, cleaner and efficient government which can take our nation forward, eradicating the mark of poverty in many villages to one India of prosperity.

…High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince.

Oscar Wilde‘s ‘The Happy prince‘ is one of the many stories that I have read during early school days. Remarkably, this is one of the few I still remember! I was barely able to read difficult English literature per se then, but still the story of Happy prince was within my grab. I don’t recollect whether I had understood all the words of Wilde, back then. This was at a time, when I was happily enjoying my schooling and life in my mother tongue Malayalam. Malayalam literature had its penchant style and aura, which is difficult to explain to non-Malayalam readers.  I was ‘at-home‘ when it came to reading the Malayalam literary works. Yet, I had thrived to learn English stories, albeit at a reduced speed. That whenever, I got a chance to read. Oscar Wilde was one of the rare English writers whose work, somewhat accidentally came to my reading list.  I was surrounded and enthralled by the works of great south American and Russian writers, otherwise. Partly, thanks to the communist influence in Kerala society, the translations of great Russian and south American books were far more available at ease  and at cheap rate (In fact I don’t remember buying anything, but all borrowed from various small local libraries around). 

Coming back to the Happy prince, the story had indeed put a stamp in my memory as a child.  I may have been 10 years or so when I was ‘introduced to’ the ‘Happy prince’.  The subdued request of the prince to the little swallow was by heart to me. When the prince says ” Swallow, swallow little swallow…”, my heart seemed to have resonated at a lower pace.  As a child, I had never seen an European city, for that matter any great city including the ones in India, let alone city across the Atlantic. It was all in my mind, that I’d imagined a mythical model of such a city, a city of the happy prince!  I used to visualise the position of the Happy prince statue standing tall in the middle of a city. Did I ever imagine the enormity of a city as big as this? As a child it is difficult to fathom and relate the seriousness of people’s struggle, a statue could see.  For sure, I was touched and moved by his sorrows and pain.

The swallow represented a role model so to speak  when it comes to helping others. Subconsciously, the little swallow literally drenched my cheeks by living through that difficult winter.  Back then, I had never seen what it is to be a snowy winter, still, could feel the chill of that season, when the shivering swallow wholeheartedly fulfilled the Prince’s wishes. Years later, the words “…Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow. Stay with me one night longer” still linger my ears. Tears still beckons! Perhaps that story have had a deep influence to me since childhood, to an extend that I’ve never imagined. As a child, I wished if only the swallow could go to Egypt, but alas!

Now, I have accidentally come across that very same story in video form in youtube. That brought in a rewinding of years! I feel the same chill now, as a 10 year old that I had felt years ago. I had told this story to Nivedita a few times. I could see her expression when I uttered the prince’s humble request “…Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow. Stay with me one night longer” .. The impact of Oscar Wilde’s powerful writing tells a story in itself. Don’t they?

…High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince.

The prince and the swallow still stays on.. in my memory…I really want to tell this story to many kids! The youtube video is commendable too.

A few years ago, during undergrad days, myself and  friend Ramani during our lazy 75 paise mini canteen tea outing, were discussing a small riddle. It was motivated from a real world experience from our computer center in NIT Calicut (REC Calicut). In REC those days, we students almost exclusively used rubber slippers (Yes, those Paraqon brand which used to cost 20 rupees or so), usually called by the name ‘chappels’. With that, we were not only comfortable while walking and running around, but we’re equally at ease playing cricket and badminton with the very same foot support; and many other things too, including jogging. Those thin hard rubber slippers used to last an year or more without giving much trouble, other than perhaps an occasional tearing of the rubber tie. In all, we were at peace with that.

But there was an issue, not exclusively for this brand, but for chappals in general (shoes were a luxury of sort in the campus;atleast it wasnt very common). Not for everyone though! If and only if you were fancied of visiting the computer center! Well, computer center wasn’t all that fanciful then, since we were provided with only graphics less Unix terminals (no colour monitors!). You might wonder, huh! what age am I talking about? Besides, Internet and Emails were only taking shape then. Chats and browsing were not quite there yet;Unless you felt a touch inferior to the computer wizkid around, that was not a compelling centre de visite. As, ‘would be‘ electronics and communication engineers we had that occasional inferiority complex!. Computer center was air conditioned and was strictly slippers free. We were expected to keep our valuable slippers outside (no clock room luxury! well that was not a necessity either) before entering to that cooler room, filled with monochromatic terminals. Since most of the chappals dropped outside were alike (in size and also sometimes color) there was a good chance that at the time return, we ended up with a different pair of slippers (Some folks found happy for themselves by a visit to the computer center, just for a pair change, often to an improved lot!).  Sometimes, we ended up having differently colored ones, say left foot white and right foot blue. That wasn’t a problem socially either, as long as you stayed within the campus. It was socially accepted within the walls!

Anyway, coming back to the riddle we were busy conjecturing on. We wanted to automate a clock room. The idea then would be to just deposit the chappals there at random. The clock room work automatically. Upon asking (at the time of return, say) it will select a pair at random and give it to you. Sorry, you cant have a choice. Just accept and hope for the best. We asked the questions:

1) What is the probability that everyone gets their own chappals

2) What is the probability that none of them get their submitted pairs

Assume n number of  people (and hence n pairs). We can assume that, a pair is a single entity (say both left and right slippers are tied and submitted as one) . This simplified the problem to n people n slipper scenario. A simplistic model assumeed that all n people submit their slippers at the same time. We wanted to build that great randomized clocker machine! And we wanted that to work for any n, which means, the algorithm had to be implementable and to work well in expectation!

We had thought and pondered about it for a while, then. In the end, we had found that the first one is easy, but the second one a little harder to generalize for beyond n=10 or something.  As busy undergrads, we left the problem after an hour of discussion, probably until we had finished sipping the tea. Aside, we were busy with many other extra curricular activities including a 3 hour daily cricket match at the lush green international hostel ground. The megadeth team, as we proudly grouped ourselves, the electronics and communication batch hardly missed those cricket matches. We were electronics engineers and had taken pride in ourselves by not really bothered to ask any fellow discrete math or combinatorics folks! That perhaps helped in some sense.  Ramani found management more interesting than those technical details of counting. I am sure he took the right career. Anyway…too much digressing already!

Now, it turns out that, the very same problem is akin to a well known problem in combinatorics. It is called the Hatcheck lady problem. It is fairly easy to solve it using the inclusion exclusion principle. The proof outline is shown below. As I type, memory fetches that discussion,  sitting leg-folded on the cement bench at the REC mini-canteen, perhaps an occasional cool breeze around too. 

The inclusion exclusion principle is the following:

\lvert \bigcup_{i=1}^{n} A_{i} \rvert=\displaystyle\sum_{i=1}^{n}{\lvert A_{i}\rvert}-\displaystyle\sum_{1\le i_{1}<i_{2}\le n}^{n}{\lvert A_{i1}\cap A_{i2} \rvert}+\displaystyle\sum_{1\le i_{1}<i_{2}\le n}^{n}{\lvert A_{i1}\cap A_{i2}\cap A_{i3} \rvert}

                 +\displaystyle\sum_{1\le i_{1}<i_{2}\le n}^{n}{\lvert A_{i1}\cap A_{i2}\cap A_{i3} \rvert}+\ldots+

                 +(-1)^{n-1}{\lvert A_{1}\cap A_{2}\cap A_{3}\cap\ldots\cap A_{n} \rvert}

The Hatchek lady problem can be stated with a similar story as the random clocker machine. (From Harris, Mossinghoff, Hirst’s book on Combinatorics and Graph Theory)

A lazy professor gives a quiz to a class of n students, then collects the papers, shuffles them, and redistribute them randomly to the class for grading. The professor would prefer that no student receives his or her own paper to grade. What is the probability that this occurs? This indeed is an equivalent statement of the well known Hatcheck lady problem (I guess the exact name come from a hatcheck lady who collects hats and absentmindedly return them)

For Hatcheck lady problem, the probability P(n)=\frac{D(n)}{n!}.

D(n)=n!-\lvert A_{1}\cup A_{2}\ldots\cup A_{n}\rvert=n!-\frac{n!}{1!}+\frac{n!}{2!}-\ldots+(-1)^{n}\frac{n!}{n!}

= n!-\displaystyle\sum_{k=1}^{n}{(-1)^{k-1}\binom{n}{k}(n-k)!}=n!-\displaystyle\sum_{k=1}^{n}{(-1)^{k-1}\frac{n!}{k!}}

P(n)= 1-\displaystyle\sum_{k=1}^{n}{(-1)^{k-1}\frac{1}{k!}}

When n gets larger and larger it converges asymptotically to a constant!

\displaystyle\lim_{n\to\infty} P(n)=\displaystyle\lim_{n\to\infty}{\displaystyle \sum_{k=1}^{n}{\frac{1}{k!}}}=\frac{1}{e}

I wonder how this song found itself a way to the drains!  I remember listening to this audio in All India Radio chalachithraganangal program during childhood. It is a little slow but I have enjoyed the  rhythm. Never seen this video before. Now, the video brings more nostalgia about those paddy fields and picturesque Kerala, my home land.  Missing Kerala!

Hope you guys enjoy this music. (For information the music is in malayalam)

It appears that, both the LDF and UDF have overcome the usual uneasiness in coming out with the candidate lists to the coming Loksabha elections. Quite strangely, LDF candidate selection meetings turned out to be much like the usual UDF fights.  LDF known for their discipline and ideologies, had to face a lot of mudslinging exercise, not only from opponents, but as well from their allies. However, largely, their candidate list showed some sense of vibrancy by fielding young and cheerful candidates. After all, people need their MPs to talk and present their woes; more importantly present and represent them well in the Parliament.  Personally, I am not too inclined and happy with these Ponnani episode. Nor am I happy with these religious mongers having a big say in these elections.  Sadly, the sense of reality hastens that, even the religious outfits have their agendas waiting to be exploited by one of these two fronts, namely LDF and UDFs.  

Now, what do we have from the UDF list? Quite frankly,  all but two are hopeless. Among the UDF list, I would like Shashi Tharoor to get elected, even though he will have to sweat it out from Thiruvananthapuram. I am not enthused by the religious agenda dominated constituencies like Ponnani and Malappuram, partly because I am ignorant of the real scene there and partly because of my uneasiness in mixing religion and politics.  In the remaining 16 seats, I would rather prefer LDF candidates to win, simply because the opponent candidates stay no chance of being effective representatives. Congress has been lacking smart leaders.  Their usual choices are drawn from the pool of factions and castes.  LDF, in spite of all their hodgepodge alliances, fielded some decent candidates.  It will not be easy, I reckon even for LDF, because the unpleasantness among allies and even within the members of major party CPI(M) is looming large.  Going by the corruption history and ability to stand up and speak, many of the LDF nominees deserve to get elected over the UDF counterparts.  For sure, I would really think Shashi tharoor is an appropriate candidate to represent Kerala.  If elected he can perhaps be a very vocal MP for not only Thiruvananthapuram, but Kerala as a whole. To be honest UDF inspite of the minor opposition from within Congress party, got a good candidate to contest from the state. You can argue that he is not a big wig politician, but he knows more about India and is an exemplary policy maker, which will help in the parliament. 

As a footnote, it is appalling that Rajdeep Sardesai cant even say the word Thiruvanathapuram, not in one, but four or five trials.   Quite pity that, a leading national  reporter cant get this right. I don’t mind a little change in accent, but he seem to care little to get the name correct. Horrible. At least a sense of respect? Anyway, their credibility tag is lost long ago, with their sensational reporting.  Sad thing is that, they seem to continuously relish on that ideology. And they are sort of ridiculing Mallika Sarabhai, by asking something like “You, urban English speaking candidate fielding from Ahmadabad?” It was (and still is) so stupid a question that, Mallika replied in Gujarati to create more splines and wrinkles on their face (Suhasini Hyder the other news anchor in this case). Weren’t they expecting it? Or do they think that, everything in this world revolve around their concept of Indianness? Being a broadcast medium one thing is that, they can say any nonsense, but being responsible is entirely another.  Over the years, Rajdeep who had been such a fine journalist, now all confined to being one among the many, new era sensationalizing breed. It saddens people like me, who had enjoyed their good piece of reporting; all when sensibility prevailed!  She is standing in an election from a constituency where she lives. How ignorant are these urban news reporters on her ability to speak her mother tongue? They fielded similar question to Shashi tharoor as well. For their information, he can speak Malayalam, pretty decently.

In this post, I tried (for the first time) to write something in Malayalam, my mother tongue. My dear English only readers, please excuse! The pleasure of writing something in mother tongue is different.  Sadly and regrettably, I seem to have forgotten some of the alphabets of Malayalam. I feel ashamed. 

മലയാളത്തിലെഴുതാന്‍ ഇപ്പോള്‍ വളരെ എളുപ്പമായി. പണ്ട്  ഞാന്‍ മലയാളം LaTex malayalam ഉപയോഗിച്ചിരുന്നതോര്‍ക്കുന്നു (In 2000 or so, it was. Now, latex omega is pretty nice and easy too, especially while LaTexing). കുറച്ചതികം ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടിയാണ് അന്ന് കുറച്ചു വരികളെഴുതാന്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞത്. എന്നാല്‍ ഇപ്പോള്‍ എത്രയോ എളുപ്പമാണ് (all thanks to Google Transliteration). എന്തായാലും വേര്‍ഡ്പ്രെസ്സില്‍ ഒന്ന് എഴുതി നോക്കാമെന്ന് വച്ചു.

കഴിഞ്ഞ രണ്ട്  ദിവസ്സമായി ഞാന്‍ കേരളത്തിലെ രാഷ്ട്രിയ സംഭവ വികാസങ്ങള്‍ നിരീക്ഷിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. ഇവിടെ യുറോപ്പില്‍ ഇന്റര്‍നെറ്റ് വഴി കിട്ടുന്ന വാര്‍ത്തകള്‍ മാത്രമാണ് ഒരു മാര്‍ഗം. പ്രധാനമായും വാര്‍ത്തകളെല്ലാം വരുന്ന ലോകസഭ തെരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പ് സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്തികളെ ചുറ്റിപറ്റിയുളളതായിരുന്നു. സി പി ഐ എം, സി പി ഐ തമ്മില്‍ പൊന്നാനി സീറ്റ് സ്ഥാനാര്‍ഥി നിര്‍ണ്ണയം ചൊല്ലിയുള്ള വിവാദം ഒരു പക്ഷേ അനാവശ്യമായിരുന്നു. സി പി ഐ സെക്രടറി വെളിയം ഭാര്‍ഗവന്‍ തീര്‍ത്തും നിര്‍ഭാഗ്യകരമായ രീതിയിലാണ് പത്ര സമ്മേളനം നടത്തിയത്. ഒരു മുന്നണിയില്‍ പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ ചില അഭിപ്രായ വിത്യസങ്ങളൊക്കെ ഉണ്ടാകുന്നതു സ്വാഭാവികം. പക്ഷേ അത് ജനങ്ങളുടെയും പ്രവര്‍ത്തകരുടെയും മുന്നില്‍ അവതരിപ്പിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ കുറച്ചു പക്വതയൊക്കെ ആകാമായിരുന്നു. ഇത് കോണ്‍ഗ്രസിലെ അടിപിടി പോലെയുള്ള ഒന്നായി മാറ്റിയതിനു വെളിയത്തിന്‍റെ കൊള്ളരുതായ്മ്മയായി മാത്രമേ കാണാന്‍ കഴിയു‌. ഇതില്‍ ഏറ്റവും വിചിത്രം പൊന്നാനി സി പി ഐയുടെ കൊട്ടയോന്നുമല്ല. മിക്കവാറും തോക്കാറുള്ള മുസ്‌ലിം പ്രാധിനിത്യം അത്യധികമുള്ള ഒരു മണ്ഡലം,അതില്‍ ഒരു പൊതു സമ്മതനെ അങ്ങീകരിക്കാന്‍ ചേര്‍ന്ന ഒരു മീറ്റിങ്ങില്‍ തങ്ങളുടെ ആഗ്രഹം അതെ പടി സാധിയ്ക്കാതത്തിന്റെ പേരില്‍ ഒരു പത്ര സമ്മേളനം നടത്തി ശകാര വര്‍ഷം ചൊരിഞ്ഞ് വെളിയം അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ ഉള്ള വിലയും ഇല്ലാതാക്കി. ഒരു കണക്കിന് ഭര്‍ദ്ദനും വെളിയവും ഏകദേശം ഒരേ പോലെയുള്ള മൂക്കിന്‍റെ അറ്റത്ത്‌ ദേഷ്യം ഒട്ടിച്ച രണ്ടു നേതാക്കള്‍. നിര്‍ഭാഗ്യവശാല്‍ രണ്ടുപേരും ഒരേ പാര്‍ട്ടിയില്‍. അതോ ഭാഗ്യവശാലോ?

Firstly, thanks a lot sufiwindsurfing for bringing the story of Ravi, a young boy from the street of Mumbai India. This boy, without any formal education, all by himself learned some very commendable language tricks.  Now he speaks over thirteen languages (albeit few sentences only, but still an incredible achievement) including English, french, Italian, German, Persian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic.  Amazing! It is quite sad to realize that, the society we live in is so much unaware about the plight of millions of kids like him who are forced to suppress their talents in pursuit of making their ends meet.  In the many streets of India, we may be able to find so many such Ravi’s who are unfortunately pushed to the dark side of the fortune wheel.  I really wish and dream of an era, all the children of this world have equal access to love and education.  It is cruel to leave them alone into the  world of difficulties this early. Forget all religion and fanaticism. Who needs that, when a vast ocean of basic social problems still loom large across the world? It is a known story that, many of the kids begging in the streets of India are abducted and forced into the urban chaos. My heart goes to those parents whose beloved ones are oppressed forever. Every time I see these kids,  my mind goes into that wild scary thought of that beautiful would have been childhood, denied for the millions of underprivileged. Who knows, we may have lost millions of future hopes into the drains of mass urban disaster.  As Betrand Russell said in his beautiful autobiography prologue, “I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot and hence I too suffer“.  As he said, this indeed make a mockery of what human life should be!  We are simply not doing enough! 

and here is Ravi, when he was younger (may be 5 years then?) in 2005 

An incredible article came from Rohit Brijnath today on cricinfo.  Truly brilliant! I must say, it is heartening to see that a gem came in the middle of all these scuffle by the crazy Indian media, barking senselessly, discussing and debating for the Fabulous cricketers to retire.  I am glad that, these fantastic cricketers (Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Kumble and Ganguly) played in an era when I enjoyed the game so much. Without them, the game can never be so exciting. 

http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/current/story/372146.html

Growing up in Kerala is an experience one cannot describe in few words. One must live through it to really feel it. It is different! This video

brings back a whole lot of those memories of childhood. I may be heavily biased here to say so much uniqueness about the social life in Kerala, but to me they simply remain so. The greeneries and the beautiful countryside, the many little ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, paddy fields, the list goes on. The days of Onam and Vishu are more than festivals for the people of Kerala. The expectations and excitement build around these festivals on children’s mind and the fun of playing so many little games: playing in rain, then invariably fall sick, all that in spite of being truly aware of the consequences. August-September time frame also had the monsoon settles when all the ponds and lakes are filled with water. As kids, those were special days to spend near full days swimming and play the various games by staying in water. Beautiful! Now, all those little games like Kuttikol, Pulikkali, lathi and the countless many games all must have disappeared and perhaps paved the ways for cricket or computer. I wish to believe that it is not!

Looking back, it is amazing that people of Kerala unanimously enjoyed the festivals like Onam, Vishu and Christmas irrespective of religious beliefs. The excitement of a festival was much more than religion, even though there is mythological trace to each of them.

Coming back to this video, it instantly took me to the days of Onam when we all kids (my siblings, cousins and neighbourhood friends) took pride in displaying new dresses, (more traditional it used to be) and group ourselves to play the whole day, with intermittent breaks for lunch feast etc and the pleasure of eating a sweet or two from the neighborhood house and to feel it tastier than the one at home.

And how can I have enough of those Kani konna pookkal (Cassia fistula), a seasonal flower seen all around during vishu summer days! (Courtesy, this beautiful image of kani konna is taken from http://www.ulujain.org/album/casino/casinoflowers/cassia1.jpg)

kanikonna poothappol

kanikonna poothappol

Until the recent past, south India was freed of all these callous folks who gets thrill by killing innocent people. Now, they are sneaking in and creating havoc everywhere. Inhuman activities happening anywhere hurts and the people who are affected only knows how bad they are. The sad trend is that, these are spreading across boundaries. Yesterday’s serial blasts in Bangalore is an example where the cancer is eating all sides of society. No matter who these stupid people/groups behind these and what their motives are, it is simple attrocious and pity to hear that such insane gangs exist. I fail to understand their doctrine of deriving sadistic pleassure by killing and terrorising common people who struggle to move a life on the side lane. Koramangala was a relatively quite area (but well, outskirts of them are heard to be a little notorious for the few religious gangs, but it was a hearsay I wished to not believe, but now truth must be properly investigated), but these inhuman activities are spreading everywhere.

To my innocence, I began to think that, there is support, directly or indirectly to these callousness. If the entire mass vehemently isolate the doctrine of killing innocent people these things simply cant continue. One random blast somewhere can be considered as the work of some streaky individual or group, but a series of such things ought to be coming from more planned inhuman groups. I really wish everyone think above these pity factions, whether it is religion or silly politics or any other doctrine. If you cant respect humanity and that too helpless armless poor people then your God cannot care you either.

I don’t get to watch Indian television daily, but I still keep an eye on them once in a while by visiting their websites. The two sites I visit so are CNN-IBN and NDTV. These are sort of the two large English visual media in India. For the last one month or so, one issue (other than perhaps the left Congress party fiasco over the proposed nuclear deal with the united states) widely flashed is a murder of a young teenage girl Arushi in Noida, a suburb of Delhi. The unfortunate girl apparently had to pay an innocent life to the cruel world of cunning and sheer callousness. The callousness of the cruel people leave the society to a state of shock and uneasiness. A sense of fear is invited all around. But my point is none of these.
I am appalled by the way the Indian media went about sensationalizing this news. I can understand the many soap Indian yellow news channels (most of the Hindi news channels are just that) going this way. The two celebrated Indian news channels NDTV and CNN-IBN are just no better. Day in and out their journalists competed to present a set of tabloid style news with the quest to attract the greedy readers and audience. I say this with utter disappointment. Here is a girl, the only child to their parents and she is lost. There is investigation on going. It is a basic courtesy not to write stories about the victim’s family without having enough substance to what they talk about. News readers and media can talk senselessly on any topic and feel happy for it. Their flash news are spread across the country like tabloids. There must be some integrity and social responsibility before they venture into such silly acts. I dont have a problem when they expose any irregularities in the investigation or any cover up. But they should not air their verdict as if they are the supreme, even before doing a proper evidence collection. After saying nonstop incorrect stories about the family, now they can simply accuse the police and CBI for all what happened. Look at the family. They lost her daughter, they are portrayed as villain to the public, they lost their social reputation and health. Man this is agonizing. Police and CBI can be questioned, later on for all wrong doing. They can still be brought to justice, for any harm they created, but who can question or challenge the media? They offer all kind of accusations, but they are the one who enjoy the freedom to tarnish anyone of their choice. This is not a good going for the channels which claim to have reputed journalists. Pity!

“Like Lara, he has scored runs all over the world. I have seen him run down the pitch and hit Glenn McGrath over the top for six, and I have seen him hit me for six against the spin going around the wicket”

When the best spinner of all time, ever to have played the game of cricket say this, it means there is more than substance to it. Surely, Shane Warne knows what he is talking about. Anyone who has seen the Tendulkar era would rate him as one of the best batsman of his time, if not more. So, in my reading, Shane Warne got his assessment very neatly right. As the legendary spinner remarked, Tendulkar and Lara are two of the finest batsmen played during his playing era and there is only fine line separate these two. I personally, don’t prefer to separate them. To me, both of them complimented very well, and at times very similar too. One a right hand bat, the other left handed. One more flamboyant, the other text book perfect. Both attacking and times impossible to dismiss. One had the expectation of a billion people, while the other was more rebellious and often busy composing a symphony of his own class and date with destiny.

In some way, this assessment of Shane warne must be kept along with the very similar remark Don Bradman made about Tendulkar ten years back. He was equally candid to state that Tendulkar was one current batsman, who nearly resembled the Don himself in technique and stroke play. Now, we have the two best best players of all time, one batsman and the other bowler agreeing when it comes to the finest batsman since Bradman. Not many would disagree. If they do, then it lacks substance and proper reasoning. If you really look at the critics of Tendulkar, they are all guys who pass remarks based on 2 or 3 failures in a series. For example, when India exited the 2007 world cup in the very first round, there were furies and sounds for his head. Mind you, only he was targeted. What is the rational for such huge clamour? He played 3 innings and scored only one 50. True, he failed in two innings and one of the loss was enough to pack the bags. That is not quite the reason to singularly blame a batsman of his class for the exit. Common fans reactions at times are expected because the expectations from Tendulkar when he go to bat for India is beyond what words could describe. They want him to score at least a 100 in fewer balls with a minimum of few sixes and some down the lane whack. They want him to this every single time he go out to bat. In the hey days, Tendulkar could hit Mcgrath for sixes with consistency, but that is not going be a practical norm for every match. To add more masala there will be occasional senseless remarks by people like Kapil Dev, who out of the blue try to belittle him with remarks like ‘He never lived up to expectation’. Firstly, he gets it wrong when he uses the word ‘never’. Perhaps he didn’t drop in intentionally. Hindi to English translation perhaps change the meaning of the content considerably. Perhaps, but I don’t know! Secondly, he must understand that, it is easy to throw wild criticism without facts. Someone become hero not because he/she does something once in a blue moon. They build on to prove their mettle time and again, over a considerable test of time. In Tendulkar case as well, he earned the respect of millions of cricket lovers because of the sheer performance on cricket field. Let us admit and enjoy his game, as much as you can.

Tendulkar and Lara are once in a while phenomena. Unfortunately Lara is not there in the big scene anymore. Thankfully we still have Tendulkar, at least for a few more years. While he is there we can cherish for some class on a cricket field. By no means, we can expect him to be a machine to do a routine bash job like a quad core processor. When he does it, it is one of those ‘making it feel better’ proud moments to enjoy a sport. Let us appreciate those moments. As they say, once he is gone from the scene, there wouldn’t be too many such things in the pipe to hope for!

By the way, the list of Shane warne’s top 50 positions are largely his observation. We must accept his rational. It is very hard to put a number to a player, because the measure is not quite always black and white. I for instance would consider Steve Waugh in top ten, when Warne consider him at 26th position behind Lehman. Steve Waugh was not merely a match saver to me. He was much broader in scope than Shane Warne’s remarks. He might not have been as gifted and flamboyant as his brother younger by a minute, but he often fixed a high valued stamp for his wicket. That made it extra hard to get his wicket. One another aspect of Steve Waugh, I liked is his urge to push for a win, irrespective of the risk involved, at least at a majority of times.

The top 50 from Shane Warne’s list of cricketers, from his playing era are [1]

50 Jamie Siddons
49 Darren Berry
48 Brian McMillan
47 Chris Cairns
46 Dilip Vengsarkar
45 Waqar Younis
44 Alec Stewart
43 Michael Atherton
42 Ravi Shastri
41 Justin Langer
40 Kapil Dev
39 Stuart MacGill
38 Sanath Jayasuriya
37 Stephen Harmison
36 Andy Flower
35 Michael Vaughan
34 Bruce Reid
33 Allan Donald
32 Robin Smith
31 Tim May
30 Kevin Pietersen
29 Shoaib Akhtar / Craig McDermott
28 Saeed Anwar / Mohammad Yousuf
27 Jacques Kallis / Shaun Pollock
26 Steve Waugh
25 Darren Lehmann
24 Brett Lee
23 Stephen Fleming
22 Martin Crowe
21 David Boon
20 Adam Gilchrist
19 Aravinda de Silva
18 Merv Hughes
17 Matthew Hayden
16 Andrew Flintoff
15 Graham Gooch
14 Rahul Dravid
13 Anil Kumble
12 Mark Waugh
11 Courtney Walsh
10 Ian Healy
9 Mark Taylor
8 Ricky Ponting
7 Muttiah Muralitharan
6 Wasim Akram
5 Glenn McGrath
4 Allan Border
3 Curtly Ambrose
2 Brian Lara
1 Sachin Tendulkar

[1]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/shane_warne/article2364258.ece

I was a little surprised to learn that Sanskrit fits the bill to become a computer language. Apparently, Forbes in 1987 claimed to have reported (or may have researched and produced a report) that Sanskrit is very suitable to use in computer (as a programming language?) because of its perfect syntax. Interestingly, Sanskrit has very little room for error as well. Well, I am not a linguistics or syntax expert, but this amazes me. How could a language so very perfect in grammatical sense become so obsolete? That too, a language originated and well used in a huge country (with huge population) went on to become obsolete! Well, the more quoted reasoning is that, the language and learning itself was restricted to the elite class in the earlier Indian society. Whatever be the past, there is scope for redemption now, then!

Now, I chanced upon to see another piece of report on Sanskrit and its usability on computer. This time, it is from none other than NASA. This report seconds, Forbes claim. Nasa’s study was mainly from the feasibility of using Sanskrit in artificial intelligence (AI). According to a Nasa researcher [1,2],

“In ancient India the intention to discover truth was so consuming, that in the process, they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for fulfilling such a search that the world has ever known — the Sanskrit language. There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence. This article demonstrates that a natural language can serve as an artificial language also, and that much work in AI has been reinventing a wheel millennia old.

The discovery is of monumental significance. It is mind-boggling to consider that we have available to us a language which has been spoken for 4-7000 years that appears to be in every respect a perfect language designed for enlightened communication. But the most stunning aspect of the discovery is this: NASA the most advanced research center in the world for cutting edge technology has discovered that Sanskrit, the world’s oldest spiritual language is the only unambiguous spoken language on the planet. Considering Sanskrit’s status as a spiritual language, a further implication of this discovery is that the age old dichotomy between religion and science is an entirely unjustified one. It is also relevant to note that in the last decade physicists have begun to comment on the striking similarities between their own discoveries and the discoveries made thousands of years ago in India which went on to form the basis of most Eastern religions.

 

OK, then, what makes a spoken language suitable as a programming language. Does it mean that a language so perfect in grammar make it as a perfect candidate in computer parlance. In loose term, this make sense, since the syntax and semantic description can be defined a priori. After all, computer is a dummy box! But the truth could be a little deeper. Anyway, I cant wait to understand a little bit of those rationale behind the suitability of a good computer language.
[1]http://www.hinduwisdom.info/Sanskrit.htm
[2]http://www.americansanskrit.com


Nandu (Nandakishore Santhi) married to Kavita on 27th December 2006 at Cherpulasseri, Palghat (Palakkad), Kerala. I went with my friend Soni PM (in the photo, Soni is at right hand side of Nandu and yours truly is seen to the left side of of Kavitha) to this beautiful part of Gods own country!

Paghat is a beautiful place, known for its natural setup aside the western ghats. The green paddy fields are a scene worth many a click. You could see many fields all around (all over Kerala for that matter, but Palghat has little more to its credit, historically). Music is one another thing you would associate Paghat to. The Tamil Brahmin’s population in this area (this place is also in the close proximity to the city, Coimbatore) credits to a rich history of music (Carnatic music).


Monday, 2006 December 18
Mangalore

On 18, December 2006, I could attend wedding of my good old friend Sukesh Pai. Sukesh and I are known to each other from my higher secondary school days at Kanhangad Nehru arts and science college (those days..early 1990s we used to have a two year pre degree course, in place of the 10+2). Sukesh married to Archana on 18th December at Mangalore.

On 17th December night, I set out for an overnight trip to Mangalore, along with Narayana Pai. Maya and Nivedita couldn’t join since they were caught under the weather. Even though, I wasnt feeling all that well with the viral fever, I somehow wanted to make it to this occasion. In fact my hometown is very close to this port city (Nileshwar in Kerala’s Kasargod district is less than 60 miles from Mangalore). With Pai (Narayana Pai is known as Pai in the friends’ circle) it is always fun, because he has this huge ability to make you feel very comfortable, anytime, with the worldly discussions on any topic. No matter, where we start, with Pai, it will never get completed without discussing about cars and automobiles (and not to forget the Cisco goodies, they give it to employees with a certain regularity!). As one would expect, we also talked about cars. We talked about the new BMW cars being launched in India and to the torque adjustment mechanism of the latest Mercedes S series. Travel can never be boring with Pai and it was no different this time. I enjoyed every moment of this Volvo trip to Mangalore. The Bangalore-Mangalore highway was so messed up after the monsoon, that buses these days go via Mysore-Madikeri route.

Anyway, we had a comfortable journey (barring the condition of the road itself; I for one, didn’t feel it to any extend, thanks to the sound sleep on the journey). We reached Mangalore Jyoti circle at 6am . Mangalore as you would expect was relatively warm (even in winter it is quite not chilly there) compared to Bangalore.

Sukesh looked gorgeous in his wedding dress. The wedding was reminiscent of typical Konkani GSB Brahmin’s function. The pooja’s and other rituals would start from the previous day and would continue till the next day. It was quite a pleasant, and well organized sort of function. Both Sukesh and Archana looked very happy and it was indeed a pleasant sign. With Sukesh, you would always find a pleasant smile, the very sign of it could make anyone happy. Sukesh’s parents are known to myself and my wife Maya for a long time (may be longer with my wife because she is also a Konkani). They must be very proud (and a little relieved) that he found his very suitable better half.

I am very happy and feel proud of him. He is one guy, to whom I have tremendous respect as a good friend, as a simple human being who cared for his family and friends, and also a role model for any youngster with the sheer dedication and hard work he put in. I wish him all the very best for a continued, happier times in life.

happy married life Sukesh and Archana

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