Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Return

The world seems suddenly lighter,
my thoughts they wander free.
Discarding the invisible shackles,
I now wander free.

The ties that clipped my wings,
lie now at my feet.
Free to choose glory or ruin,
Free to stand on my feet.

My pride shall never be pawned again,
nor will i suffer fools.
Better to reign in hell than
get crushed in servitude.

Do what feels to me is right, 
Do what to me feels honest.
No paeans to false gods,
no praising false prophets.

The shores of home are calling, 
Hint of a warm embrace.
I did not leave in triumph
Nor do i return in disgrace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PC Config for May

Well, it's been a while since i wrote about the PC industry. Last time i wrote, i had gone ape over AMD's resurgence in competitiveness. Let me admit it, ever since Abu Dhabi picked up a major stake in it, i have become even more of an AMD guy. Misplaced sense of loyalty i agree.

Back to topic. AMD followed up the lacklustre showing of the original Phenom with a reworked Phenom II that has finally allowed them to march in step with Intel's Core 2 lineup. Look up on the net for reviews of the Phenom II 920, 940 and 955. I will sum up simply that rupee for rupee, AMD and Intel are evenly matched at the moment.

But, the fly in the soup still remains. AMD has NO product that can compete with the Intel i7 lineup. But since AMD has been targeting the lower and mid segment of the market, they remain viable options as of now.

On the graphics front, the ATI acquisition is finally beginning to make sense. The failure of the 2xxx and 3xxx series did not deter them and they've followed up with a master stroke in the form of the 48xx series. AMD's strategy of not trying to top Nvidia's Top end performance and instead focus on the sub 200$ market has meant tremendous paisa vasool for us.

But on the pricing front, the Indian market sticks out like a sore thumb by pricing the 4850 at 8k upwards. One can buy the vastly more powerful 4870 at these prices abroad. Here's hoping that a price correction happens pretty soon.

Onto my dream specs for the summer.

Amd Phenom II X3 720 - 7500/
Biostar Tforce 790GX 128M motherboard (for a shot at unlocking the X3 720's fourth core) - 5000/
Corsair 2x2 GB DDR 2 800  - ~3000
Seagate Barracuda 500 GB - ~3000
500 W SMPS - ~1500
Regular ATX cabinet - ~ 1500
Geforce 260 192 Core Card - ~ 11000
BenQ 22 " LCD monitor - ~ 8500

The rest like K/B and Mouse can be found for around 600, and you could get decent speakers for around 2000 more. throw in a 1000 for a DVD writer. 

This gives you a decent gaming rig for under 40 K that should serve most of your gaming needs (barring Crysis) for the next 2 years at the very least.

you could also throw in a 4850 instead of the 260, and give yourself future breathing space with the option to crossfire in the future, when the prices for the 4850 drop.

well, that's about it for my rig recommendation for the summer. 

I will throw in my next recommendation around September.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh Coffee Coffee!!

Came across an interesting tidbit the other. Seems like Coffee is the second most shipped item in the world, after petroleum. Seriously.

Glad to know that the demand for the cuppa hasn't reduced despite all the downturns.

Kaappi and i go back a very long way. It is an essential part of the Tam Bram upbringing. The urgent demands to get some "Kaappi Podi Urgentaa" from the market, whenever a relative from the south would come by. The wonderful smell from the gunny bags in the shop as the boy in the "Chettiar Kaddai" (now that's an exclusive outlet, in Jamshedpur, if there ever was one) would lift a bunch of them in that weird shaped spoon.

The tiny pouch that would be the receptacle and fit in my tiny palms. The mad rush home when Amma would begin the process of making that "DecoGtion" which would act as the ultimate benchmark for south indian hospitality. That wonderful smell that would waft into all rooms of the house and me silently abusing those lucky relatives who would get a sip of that wonderful elixir.

Oh Yes, being a coffee aficionado in the heart of Tea(Chai) country was perplexing, exasperating and wonderfully rewarding in terms.

Moving to Madras(Yes, i still love that graceful old name for the city) was in small parts the equivalent of a pilgrimage for coffee loving me. All those wonderful shops of Kaafee Podis, waiting for me.. 

Alas, as was to be a trend for the rest of my life, rubbing my hands in glee with anticipation was always a precursor to the shattering of hopes subsequently. 

That vile invader called "Instant Coffee" happened. Battalions after battalions of the army of true coffee lovers fell victim to the pretender to the throne. In vain, did i see the weak of the soul fall prey to the sweet lies proclaimed in the beautifully shot ads. Oh, the enemy was well organised. He found allies in all parts of India. And the horror!! That last bastion of "Kaappi", Chennai, caved in and drowned in the sea of coffee packets!!

I must admit, to my eternal shame, that witnessing the loss of the nobility of the bean, scarred me and i hid. I hid under the rock of plain milk for several years, doing nothing. 

When Kaddai after Kaapi Kaddai shuttered their doors forever, i hid. When "Nescafe" and "Bru" became synonymous with the term Coffee, I Hid. 

When my Patti betrayed the elixir of gods and took her first sip of packet podi, I shed a tear. While I hid.

Oh The Carnage...

Now, as i come back to the battlefield, i marvel the efficiency the enemy has shown. There are no carcasses here, rotting away, oh no. The bones have been pecked and cleaned and all indications of blood have been wiped away.

the kingdom of the packet has also been butchered and swept away in the annals of time, by the Empire of the "Starbucks" that stretches across the globe. Truly, it can be said, "The Empire of the Cafes catches no Winks".

I am the last of my kind. I am a lone warrior, a pariah who is wandering the desert, in the search for my manna. I have sinned a hundred times, consuming cup after cup of that celebration of manufactured taste and smell. Yet feeling dirty, as a vampire who sucks the life out of the hope for a Kaappi revival.

Where are my brethren? Are there no remnants of my ilk, who dotted the landscape just a decade ago? Is there no one who will join me as we try to reclaim the holy land? Will no one heed my call, and join forces to defeat the greater foe, the cult of TEA?

I shun the sweet waters, I abhor the daughters of Grape.
I turn my face away from packets of artifice.
I live, therefore i thirst and wander weary
awaiting a return to erstwhile glory.

Oh Coffee Oh Kappi
How far art thou fallen.
Oh Coffee Oh Kappi
Vitality that has been stolen.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seeing Red

May is almost here and we all know what that means… Blackest Night is upon us and I for one am hoping that Geoff Johns is able to turn in a better summer crossover than Grant Morrison did on Final Crisis.

If that first para made no sense to you, it’s ok. *whispers* it’s a comic related thingy, u know, juvenile stuff */whisper*

If you read Green Lantern, you’ll know that the basic premise is driven by the association of a particular emotion with a color. So for eg. Red is associated with Rage, Green with Will, Yellow with Fear etc.

The more I thought about it, the more I began to whack out and started seeing red all over the place. Kind of like Jim Carrey’s character in The Number 23.

The abundance of Red in our lives can only lead to a simple conclusion.

We are a society filled with Anger and Hate.

That explains the following phenomenon:

·         The most popular shades of Lipstick, Hair Dye and Nail Polish? You guessed it!

·         The most popular color for Cars? Wow! You’re Good

·         The color of the traffic light that causes the most number of accidents?

·         What color are the hearts drawn in most cards?

·         What was the color of the Carpet that stars like Bale, Crowe walked on?

I could go on and on. Point is, with the media feeding you constant news reminding us of the beast within us, with constant reminders of the divisions that mark us, constant reminders of the perils around us, and with the abundance of the color red around us, is it any wonder then,


Ki Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai?


/The Red Indian Signs Off/

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vote Blank Politics

The second phase in the grand exercise we call parliamentary elections just concluded. This time now, till we have the swearing in of the next government in Delhi, is exactly the stuff that Messrs Pranoy Roy & Co live and breathe for. This also used to be the time, when newspapers could safely count on our politicians to supply enough fodder to fill out all their pages with glee.

But a bit of distance helps changing perspectives. This is my first election from foreign shores. And if i were to sum up my opinion on this one, in one word, i would choose APATHY.

Granted, Shekhar Suman's plunge into the matkas and jhatkas of regular politics has robbed us of the excellent Poll Khol programme. That apart, this election seems remarkably bereft of character. While i can't put my finger on the exact reason, the maddening passion that generally marks the tussle and tumble of the Indian politics just seems off this time.

Whether this is due to greater concerns on the impact of the recession, or saturation of political coverage due to the armada of TV Channels, or the gradual blurring of ideology that used to distinguish our major parties or perhaps, the lack of a young leader, with a refreshing change of attitude/ideas/approach is up for debate.

While every Raju, Ganpat and Murari is predicting a hung parliament this time, i am a firm believer that opportunism and greed will hold their sway and give us a sworn in government at least for the next 2 years. what happens post that is beyond the scope of even the magic crystal ball.

What is of much greater interest to me however, is the voter turnout among the newly registered voters. I am also going to watch out for the positions and maneuvering that the so called "Third Front" is doubtless going to indulge in.

Sadly, i see the sun setting on the stellar public life of Dr Manmohan Singh a year from now. He was a spotless man in a muck of rajniti, and he along with Montek Singh will go into the history books unsung.

I will not put my neck out to predict a winner but i do think that unless BJP finds a new generation of leaders or allows the current gen to step out of Vajpayee and Advanis shadows, the party risks being relegated to the fringes of the right. Which is a danger in itself to our country. A Congress that is fearless of the "Threat from the Right" will relapse into the babugiri of the last 5 decades at the drop of a hat.

Dont agree with what I've written? That's ok with me. So long as we all take the Elections seriously, i dont mind anyone faulting my views at all.

Love It or Hate It
Dont Ignore IT.

Now back to my regular mind killing, creativity sapping, spark sapping dreary existence.

A Historic Amnesia

First off let me admit, the current bit of introspection comes after watching Anurag Kahyap’s Gulal. The movie is a must watch for anyone interested in the shenanigans and Machiavellian scheming that goes on unreported, in the dusty heartlands of India. I found the first half to be a welcome breath of fresh air in hindi cinema, which for once, tackled a subject that has not yet been brought to life on the silver screen.

However the main plot of the movie, which deals with aristocratic discontent in a post Indira Gandhi India, got me thinking. Here is a chunk of Indian history, which had huge ramifications for the notion of a democratic republic of india. Here is a piece of celluloid that deals with one of the most important issues –the absorption( or devouring, depending on the viewpoint) of the 600+ erstwhile princely states that now make up the landmass of our country. Here is a movie that deals with the struggle of assimilation, a tale that involves coercion, bargains, deals, unfulfilled promises and threats.

And yet, I as an Indian who underwent the prescribed education in school, remain blissfully ignorant of this part in the story of the country. In fact, most of the education I received has since fallen by the wayside. This by no means is a knock on my wonderful school. I would like to look at it as a symptom of our faulty view of education.

History is one of the most moving and overwhelming subjects that ought to be taught with a view of not just imparting dates and places and sizes of kingdoms on maps. No, the objective of our lessons should be to transport us back into the palaces. To visualize the splendor as well as the societal conditions that existed then. To not drill plain names into our heads, but to give us living breathing figures, prone to the same passions and miscalculations that plague our daily lives.

When I refer to historic India, we all remember the grand names, like the Mauryas, Guptas, Mughals, Marathas etc with all the fervor of a freshly landed tourist with a guide book in hand. But how many of us can actually recount the shaping of our culture, the evolution of our language, the introduction and spread of several faiths, the sowing of the seeds of future conflicts, the reasons for the various conquests, the reasons for the burgeoning population, the wealth and eventual pillage at the hands of invaders, the arrival and reasons for the spread of the east india company.

Bluntly put, we are taught history in 3 main stages. The classic age, where we are told India was “the golden bird”. A whole lot of pats on the backs as we recall our advancements in sciences and arts and commerce, upto the Gupta period. Then we deal with the Mughal Rule and the subsequent shameful era of the Raj. The crowning glory then is the freedom struggle and the partition and 15th august.

But where are the details, of our participation in the World Wars? And what happened to our story post independence? What of the struggles of a young India, tottering after 2 crippling centuries of british looting? What about the simmering communal tensions, that devastate us even today? What about the genesis of the march of the Dalits to the forefront of national politics? What about the License Raj, a time when there were limits on the amount of sugar a family could consume? What about India’s struggles against Pakistan and China? What about the battles with domestic terrorism in the west, the heartlands and the northeast?

The story of the accession of J&K, Junagadh, Hyderabad and the ilk remain silent chapters, safely skipped over in our classes and exams. And the biggest omission of them all, in my eyes, remains the criminal exclusion of the Emergency.

There is no way that you can instill the meaning of freedom, democracy, rights and duties, the influence of judiciary, press freedom, censorship etc without teaching us about the Emergency. The other silent areas include the Sikh Riots, The crushing of the Khalistan Movement, the IPKF fiasco, the Babri Masjid, the Stock market crashes of 92, 2000 etc.

If you ever wonder why the new generation is apathetic to the trials and upheavals that we have witnessed as a country, look no further than to our text books. We call ourselves a nation, yet we do not know the meaning of it. The value of freedom, the meaning of it, as opposed to the definition, will only be truly found out when one is locked up in a cage. Far too many of us abuse the electoral system with our non participation, to really understand the magnificence of the privilege afforded to us.

Enough of the rant. Maybe next time, my anger would have simmered down enough to write in a more cohesive manner.