Mathrix at Anna University

So we went to Anna University today for Mathrix ’08 and it was actually pretty nice. I left early in the morning and caught a share auto to the CEG campus where they were going to hold the events. While we were travelling it started raining like mad, and when I got off I had to take refuge along with some other people in a traffic policeman’s shed. The only problem was I had to keep standing. Ah well, better dry and standing than wet and sitting.

So I managed to get inside Anna University and to the venue in time. Yay! First on the list was:

C Debugging:

A while ago, someone mentioned something about this event in Arun’s blog and I found it hard to believe that such crazy stuff would be asked. My mistake, I should’ve heeded the warning. It was crazy man, CRAZY! There was a little timer in the corner and it would keep ticking down the seconds till twenty five minutes had run out. On the screen there was this box with code that usually goes something like this:
Find the output:

int main()
int i = 24;
int * Iptr = &i;
[gibberish looking stuff involving TRIPLE POINTERS! Which sane person uses freaking triple pointers?!!]
[some more stuff]
return 0;

Triple pointers?! What hater-of-all-things-human uses triple pointers? And then to make it worse they had questions about a pointer to a pointer to a character pointer returned by a function that accepts a pointer to a character pointer. Man, you know what? I don’t know the damn language, I’m going to say that, and I’m never going to be able to program stuff in anything other than python if its all like this. Jesus, imagine writing Hello World. No way, I’m not going near C unless I’m in a Hazmat suit. Needless to say we were near the bottom of the pack, if not last. On the way out this girl organising it asked if it was easy, I said it was ‘Interesting’ – which it was, it gave me insight into my programming skills. Then there was:

The Quiz:

I had to walk through the rain to get to the quiz, and I was drenched by the time I got there. No umbrella you see. Waste of time standing inside traffic booth. Anyway, the quiz itself was pretty nice, not too tough except for the last page that was full of computer science stuff and had some weird questions about definitions. Since there were no negatives we guessed :) It turned out well, I have to go for the finals tomorrow. That’ll be cool, I bet they’ll ask all sorts of engineering stuff and I won’t know anything. Ah well, worth a shot I guess and besides, it meant I didn’t have to go to class today :D

Incidentally, about that traffic policeman, a really sad thing happened. He was sitting there waiting for one of those police vehicles to come by, and when the fancy Hyundai Accent showed up he ran up to it in the rain and tried to talk to the cops inside, but they just said they weren’t going to do anything and sped off all nice and warm inside their car. All he wanted was a raincoat, he was grumbling about how they could’ve just given him the raincoat.

तारे जमीन पर

I saw Taare Zameen Par(तारे जमीन पर) today with the rest of my family. My mom’d booked the tickets and I didn’t want to go to be honest, but you know how it is — spend time with the family, that sort of thing. Man am I glad I went along because this has to be the best Hindi film I’ve seen. It was a film, not one of those entertainment shows that have all those silly song and dance routines involving people teleporting to fields of flowers and crap like that.

The Movie:

The acting was so natural, especially the little kid‘s, it was almost like watching little bits of life. Now that I think of it, every single thing about how the actors played their roles was natural and real, and you wouldn’t have noticed it all then. The soundtrack was beautiful, it fitted in perfectly with the atmosphere and kept the tension going through the intense bits and stuff like that. I’ve been told the cinematography in Indian films is really good, but this was some neat stuff and combined with the music it was super. It all came together really well.

Aamir Khan:

I’ve got to give it to the guy. I hated Mangal Pandey: The Rising, and I thought Rang De Basanti was contrived, but the job he’s done this time is wonderful. He chose a nice film to do and didn’t try hogging the limelight or anything letting Darsheel Safary do his thing. It’s also very cool that he chose to make a film on dyslexia and children who are a bit different, talking about how things we take for granted are hard for them. Frankly, I find these films far more interesting than the standard Indian stuff.

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I like my news to be news. For opinions, there are hundreds of blogs – each with no less credibility than some random journalist. I couldn’t care less. Sometimes I just want news, tell me what happened, be dry, be real. Don’t editorialize. I don’t want to hear what you think, you are not important. Honestly. I can form my own opinion, my mind is capable of thought, and I don’t like being told what to think. Really, neutral reporting and interesting reporting aren’t mutually exclusive. If something is exciting, it will be.

Let’s see, I get three newspapers, so I got to see how different they are. Three headlines (and lets leave out any talk about lack of originality), The Hindu reported that Benazir Bhutto had been killed, The New Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle had their headlines telling me that a hope had died. Sloppy, that tells me nothing until I read the article. Matter of fact, the former has more impact. It’s a problem with Indian newspapers, TNIE can’t describe the BJP or the CPI(M) without making it an opinion piece, DC likes celebrities too much and The Hindu has real trouble relaying bad news about the so-called Left parties.

See, I have nothing against editorialising per se, but why mark an editorial as news? You have those center pages, marked Editorial, or those other pages marked Opinion. Put everything there. Call everything an editorial. Let’s have some honesty please. And while you’re about it, those Opinion pieces, try to write some good ones. The only interesting opinion pieces in a newspaper here are a few in The Hindu and the ones taken from the NYT or the Guardian or some other foreign newspaper. TNIE thinks inflammatory articles must be good, by default, so they print utter rubbish with little facts and lots of errors. And most of The Hindu articles have this air of I’m-the-venerable-old-colonel all over them — stuck-up.

Really, I’m beginning to think that those people who read only the comics, they’re the smart ones.

Benazir Bhutto assassinated

Benazir BhuttoAnd boy did they do a full job of the whole thing, two guys with ak47s shot her and then a suicide bomb was detonated near her car. They didn’t take any chances. I sent Marc a message asking for confirmation because I was at a wedding when I heard and it turns out it was true. Saw the rest of the story on the TV in the lobby, that Musharraf dude’s a live wire, you can’t just let him hold power. He’s dangerous, and not just to his own country. Pakistan’s one of those few countries worse off than us religion-wise, politics-wise…Heck! They’re just worse off than us. I feel sorry for the Pakistanis, but they’ve really let the religious fundies take over. Sucks to be them.

Here’s the BBC article on the assassination: Benazir Bhutto killed in attack.
A set of pictures they have: Life in Pictures

Boxing Day Disasters

There’s something about Boxing Day and disasters: In 2003, it was the Bam Earthquake; in 2004, it was the Indian Ocean Tsunami and; last year, it was the Hengchun quake in Taiwan. There’s fodder for those claiming some significance. I remember having to write something about the Second Coming of the Messiah a while ago, my essay was a work of art I tell you, a work of art.

I remember we were at the beach near Nikhil’s place in Thiruvanmiyur the day before the tsunami playing football. If it weren’t for the classes that they had that Sunday we might have gone there again. Funny. A moment of silence…

Tsunami hitting Marina Beach

Indus Creed – An Amazing Indian Rock Band

Indus Creed - Formerly Rock MachineI was just reading Chetan’s blog the other day when I came upon his old list of Indian Rock Music. So I went straight for a band that I’d heard a bit about a long long time ago, Indus Creed, and man was I blown away or what! These guys were so damn amazing, it’s no surprise that people are still talking about them years after the band broke up. I just know that some of their songs are going to be eternal favourites.

They’ve got the good old classic rock feeling going with most of their songs, with a very Indian touch in some with the percussion and flute. It’s not just the music that gets me with this band, it’s the insight and meaning in their lyrics:
Take “Die for your country” for instance, it speaks of war and how those who start it never end up actually fighting it and how the so-called leaders get men to join the army with the nationalistic slogans and mottos, calling for people to “die for their country”. Super. Rock ‘n’ Roll Renegade seems to be about how people claim that rock musicians in the country are spoiling “the Indian Way of Life”.

It’s a shame the band’s no longer around, they deserve to be real famous.

So I wish I’d insured my foot

My foot - bandagedSo it turns out that I twisted my foot while I was playing yesterday. The funny bit was that it didn’t hurt till I got home; I must have hurt myself again on the stairs because it hurt like nothing on Earth. I couldn’t even go to sleep. Now it’s in a gauze bandage and feels much better, so I can actually walk around for Christmas.

My dad’s a doc, so I hear stories about people who actually hurt themselves pretty bad; sometimes, they fall under trains, and lose their legs and shit. It’s some scary stuff, and they usually can’t do their job anymore because they’re disabled. Thank god I don’t have to worry about stuff like that.

Football on the beach

I went to play football today with my old classmates from school. It was fun, but I learnt that I’m hopelessly out of shape. Less than 30 minutes of running and I was completely out of breath, not to mention I was starting to get a headache. I’m middle-aged at 19! I’d also like to complain about buses and the way they don’t like to show up on a Besant Nagar bound route for more than half an hour, no good sirs, that’s simply no good.

In any case, Karthik dropped me home. I don’t know if I could’ve made it back by bus, I was so tired. Anyway, my phone camera is useless for anything but daylight photographs. The moon was so low today, it was like it had come closer to Earth or something and it was reflected in the water so brightly it seemed like there were floodlights on the water. Amazing sight. Simply amazing.

In other news, it’s John Thanky’s birthday today. I met him on the way there. Wish him :)

How To Win Elections

Narendra Modi Master Modi says,
Think to the future. Kill anyone who won’t vote for you.

Well, apparently it worked. The guy’s won the Gujarat elections, even though the main BJP didn’t even support his campaign. You’ve got to give it to the Congress, they’re the equivalent of the USA’s Democratic Party, only slightly less bad than the alternative, with the potential to make some really good decisions except that they manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Talented buggers, only they can make the impossible a habit.

I hope no one ever forgets that this guy presided over the worst communal riots in India this side of the century. Some figures say that nearly two thousand people were killed. Well done sir. A job well done.

Indian Overseas Bank ATM/Debit Card and Paypal

EDIT: Wait, no you can’t. It doesn’t works. You have to get one from any bank but IOB.
It doesn’t work. Please stop commenting with your card numbers, I don’t want them. Thank you.

I was searching around to see if I could use this to verify Paypal before I actually got it. It turns out that you can. But before you use it to verify your account you have to first use it atleast once at an InstaCash ATM, so use it as soon as you get it, withdraw a couple of bucks, it won’t hurt.

And one more thing, when you walk into an IOB ATM, sometimes the slot for the ATM card won’t be clearly visible, so you may not notice it. It’s a thin slit near the part where the money comes out. I didn’t notice and spent like a couple of minutes just looking around :D

PS: Don’t forget to sign on the back of your card!