Posted in General

Jallikattu and A Weapon called Choice

Choice is always ours to make. The latent weapon in us and all of us, is what we choose consciously, not what we fall prey for.

A frog that jumps in hot water, immediately jumps out, but put him in a glass of cold water and heat slow and steady, he will be fine until he gets really burnt. This is the same with Jallikattu ban. Jallikattu ban is only 1 nail in a large coffin for the oppressed by the wealthy and powerful.

I am being generic here as “Oppressed” because it is not just isolated to one community. It happens across the world, to all, to those who are “small”, those who are not in power, or not related to the powerful (and may be the wealthy as well). It is driven by the corporate strategy of Growth in profit margin and business expansion. Sadly, at the cost of sacrificing our own people and the culture.

The corporate owns everything. It wants to derive money out of everything we use and everything we do. Unfortunately, most of us remain ignorant (or consider themselves all known, while being ignorant, which is more dangerous), to the extent that, we consider Facebook and Google as free.

I don’t mind paying for a service or good, if it appeals to me and if it is of use. But if you deprive me of my own, and then sell me what I already had in the first place, that is a problem. If you are a good ethical trader, sell me things that benefits me, not for the ever expanding profit that you would like to achieve, at any cost, going to any extent and destroying my own resources and people.

Here is the Weapon that we all have. The weapon of choice. We can choose whether we want to buy and use. Look all around you and you will find we are already sold to many. Our life belongs fully to the corporate. Our Rice and Sugar is whiter than ever and our body and mind has only turned darker. It is our choice to choose our Food and things right, for ourselves and set example for our children to follow. This is for all the oppressed, small, average normal people all over the world like us, not just for one community.

The Weapon of Choice is yours. It is time to wake up.

(If you get a chance, watch Michael Moore’s “Super Size me” and you will understand what I am saying)

Posted in General

The Elevator Traffic

The success of an Average Indian is determined by how much he can beat the traffic, or so feel that illusion. It is just one of those feelings of I did it, so we can keep our head high and walk from the parking lot to the lift with pride.

“You know what, there was such a rush today on the road, being Monday and all, but I think I maneuvered it, I made it. I beat the traffic today and I am the king”

Only to find an eager crowd of half the office, waiting to board one of the 6 lifts, summoned by that little up arrow button. Now, how do I beat this traffic !

It is really easy, you just stand near the lift where you can see the up arrow indicator glow, showing that this will come up next. Except, after 60 seconds it doesn’t and the crowd keeps thronging on that one lift with light on the up arrow. It’s like the whole crowd cheering in a stadium for this one lift to open up. You only keep hearing the dings but it just doesn’t open.

At this point, you give up and move around to bet on another of the remaining 5 lifts. But which one, the odds are almost equal on a sunny weather monday morning, and I can’t risk the one hope that most of the office has pinned on to the Lift no. 6.

It doesn’t disappoint, it opens up. But, it indicates that it is going down. Very well, most of us stick to logic and respect the direction of journey of the lift and allow it to pass down. But of course, we have that clever person in the crowd, who decides to take the trip down in order to go up. Wait, did this just sound philosophical, go down to go up ! Of course, he had followers, This is India.

The rest of us are now opinionated as we hitch our ride on another lift, genuinely going up, respecting the direction of the lift. But one can never tell, who reached before. Was it the one that went down first or was it the one that came later to go up. We all go up in the end anyway, whether you break or don’t break the rules ! Again, I am sounding weirdly philosophical !

In the end, the fact that one thinks that we beat the traffic in India, is merely an illusion. You get caught in any of the light, be it the Traffic lights or the Elevator Lights !

Posted in General

To Netflix or Hooq or Prime

Let’s cut the chase and get to the point. Consider the below as only my personal opinion coming out of my purpose and usage and nothing too elaborate, of course obviously this is for India.

For 650 per month, Netflix is steeply priced for the Indian market. The Movie content is not very enticing and obviously there are some neat good TV Shows that you can watch. I loved Netflix though for their quality streaming and 5.1 sound via Chromecast. Their HD Quality is awesome and Dolby Digital Plus sound is very intriguing. Netflix is definitely the service for someone who wants quality in their content and who are glued to some of the specific TV Shows (Originals they say). Not for those like me, who end up watching a 90 minute movie over a 2 week period with 5 breaks in between. Not that I am as busy as the Prime minister or a CEO, but just that the 3 year old simply wants to rule the house and begs 50% of my time and I spend the other 50% trying to protect the 10 year old from being tormented by the 3 year old. In the end, I watch a movie like a TV Show with 10 minute episodes. So Netflix is a no go for me, at least as of now and I stopped. If I need a specific movie from this decade then I simply rent it from Google Movies.

For 499 per year (or 999 per year from next) Amazon Prime is practically free. I mean you can watch Kabali in 1080p HD and that alone is worth the 499 that you pay. Sadly, No chromecast support means I cannot easily get it on my TV or my Home theater. Right now, Amazon prime is just a comfort watch on my phone or iPad or on the Computer. I seem to like Lethal weapon, Gortimer Gibbons (along with the Kids) and of course the biggest and the baddest of the shows – The Grand Tour, The only “Auto Journalism Humour” Genre TV Show in the whole known world. Amazon Prime sticks with me, but I wish for a cleaner device support to get it on Home Theater with 5.1 sound. Or just sell us that Fire TV or Fire Stick TV in India and we can give it a shot.

Hooq, surprisingly seems to be not a bad option for 200 per month. It has good quality content (and by good quality I mean Big Bang Theory and Friends). But I see it lacks in stream quality and no support for 5.1 sound. Hope they upgrade, soon and if they do then Netflix will be only worth its originals. Hooq is on trial and hope to keep it, if I begin to see improvements in future.

Hotstar is not considered as it has Mono sound and we are in 2017, not 1950’s.

Posted in General

To The Crazy ones who change the World

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, one of the first few things he did was to make this ad campaign – Think different. An ad featuring the crazy ones who can think crazy enough to change the world we live in.

We have come across them in our lives. They have made us. They have moulded us. They have transformed us. We are probably what we are because of what they did. They are not the popular ones, They are the ones who made the Popular ones…

Our Teachers.

If it was not for her, we wouldn’t have learnt computer science early in our school days. We wouldn’t have read newspapers in our morning assembly and relayed some tough words for us like Gloucestershire. Our English wouldn’t have been decent enough for us to make a living with a multinational company. She transformed the whole school in the late 80’s and 90’s and made us come out of just the mother tongue and the state language.

Our first line in programming “10 REM ADDITION” was the first step towards what we call “the IT Industry” now, made possible by him. With just a Genie key board, TV and a Cassette reader. GW BASIC.

He would walk in and we would expect to be read from a book. But he brought us a Cassette player and taught us French the harder way. Listen, grasp the words, say it, pronounce it. We couldn’t forget the Indicator joke each time he told – “Ca va, Ca ne va pas …”

Because it wasn’t just about reading the experiments and writing them in the exam. He kindled us by making us think what happens when you turn on a torch light, run at more than the speed of light and see. You see yourself turning on the light. We wouldn’t have understood zilch of Interstellar, if not for all the physics.

And so on and so forth…

This world is filled with a whole lot of crazy geniuses who look simple and regular for all of us. They are hell bent in doing only one thing in our lives. To change us, to transform us, to make us not what we want to become, but what the world needs out of us.

To all of them … The Teachers.

Happy Teacher’s Day !

You make the World better.

Posted in General, Technology

Music sans wires

It was the eve of Christmas 2015 and little did I know that I would walk into, of all the places in the mall, The Bose Store. Bose is not my favourite. I just feel they are too pricey and sickeningly lifestylish. You can get better sounding gear for less or same price.

But, Life always surprises you and so did the Bose Soundtouch series Wireless speakers. Beware that this is only an user opinion and not an expert review. After using it for nearly 8 months now, I can only say that the Bose Soundtouch 10 wireless music system is an integral part of my daily music experience.

cq5dam-web-320-320(Courtesy: Bose India)

It was quite a lucky encounter actually as I took the Soundtouch 10, 20 and 30 for a spin. 10 is the cheapest and 20 is pricier with Display unit while 30 is the humungous hulk. I had points from my credit card and it was redeemable at the store directly. I couldn’t hesitate purchasing the 10 as I took it for some spin with Hello by Adele, Mazhai vara poguthe from Yennai Arindhal and the Theri theme.

Strengths:

  1. Deep rich bass for the size of a dictionary and weight of just over a kilo. The booms in Theri theme went so deep and wide from the rear firing port. Quite unexpected.
  2. Voice and mids were quite stable at normal volumes – 50 to 60%, although going above that could be taxing to ears. But surprisingly it sounds very rich for such a small system. Perfect enough for Ilaiyaraaja Music.
  3. Highs could beg for more. But for casual listening from a small aesthetically shaped unit that can blend over your bed side table or your book shelf, this is plenty you can get. Beatles, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd etc do sound well enough.
  4. Apparently this is the “Best Value” Wifi/bluetooth enabled speaker in the market. Sonos or other similar brands would cost higher and not easily available here in India.
  5. Presets. I just love them. You can mark an album or playlist to each number on top and it will simply play it when you choose any of it. Very handy feature and I have an album set for each selection.
  6. It does Flac/Alac and High res – 24/96. Who would have thought ! If your wifi signal is weak it may stutter but otherwise it streams it rather beautifully and definitely sounds “hi-res”ish !

Weakness:

  1. I felt after a few months of usage, I could have got the 20 which has the display with clock and artists/song. The 20 also sounds richer and better.
  2. Bose probably doesn’t want to pay Apple, so they had stopped Airplay from this version on. This I miss badly as I have to bluetooth it instead of Airplay which is better streaming quality.
  3. No support for Apple music. Again I have to Bluetooth it. Give me a choice and I don’t want to use Bluetooth at all for my Music, but at least it is better that Bose has done a decent job to tune it better.

Overall, this is a good music system for your Bedroom/study room listening. Obviously you can buy more than one to make it Multi room listening, but I just haven’t started believing in the euphoria of Multi room listening yet !

Posted in General

Relax…Let it be…

New year resolution. That means, you swear by something on Jan 1st, the New year day and then you mark it as resolved by Jan 2nd. So, 2016 with the pretext of not taking any resolution, I am actually taking a non-resolutionistic paradoxical resolution:

Relax…Let it be…

Ok, but it doesn’t mean that I am just going to Relax and let things be as it is. It is actually a fantastic complex cosmological resolution that is far more simple and abstract than Zen. It is as vague as Arthur Dent not getting the hang of Thursdays. Now, I am not making any sense.

Let’s say I have a list of steps to do for accomplishing a particular idea or a thing on a particular day. As a first step, while I make plans, I need to keep myself open to the fact that plan gets screwed up all the time. That means, I start by not expecting the steps to happen as per the plan at the same time or in the same order or both. This is the part where I need to “Relax”. This is compulsively complicated for many of us modern workers, because we have goals and chase targets. We get shit crazy when things go out of our hands and lose control.

Relax and only try to do the next possible logical step. Add hope or faith that it will get done eventually as part of your list of steps. Either that, or it will find a logical day for completion and somehow fit into the bigger realm of things. The idea is to focus on the next logical step like Thala Dhoni.

Now, the part where I need to “Let it be” is the craziest because I cannot let anything in the world to be what it should be, including myself. Some say “Let go”, for me it is outright blunder because when you let it go it goes nowhere, just hides in a convenient place in your mind. So “Let it be” is about consciously putting it in your mind and not worrying about it. Phew, wish I could really be able to follow this so called “Let it be”. The feeling is more like you had a heavy tasty meal but you feel blocked by the gas and then you execute this universal “Let it be” rule, you belch out the enormous sub woofer sonic gas and then you start seeing roses and daises out of the Joy of relief, from gas.

But I will be able to “Let it be” only if I “Relax” and I can Relax only If I “Let it be” ! There, I have now reached singularity.

Posted in General

Fulfillment

Modern civilization focuses a lot on acquiring wealth and enjoying the luxuries of life, simply because it has become easily possible for anyone with a professional degree to tread that path. While wealth and luxury is not anything wrong, there is a portion of life that needs to be looked at.

Fulfillment.

Your heart senses emptiness whenever you do things only for the sake of doing. You feel a drain in Energy and you attribute it to just making your living and say “I am supposed to do this to earn my living”. An article on Lonely planet couple of months back made me to think on this term fulfillment and it took me 2 months to understand it to an extent that I can write it here. The article was about an Italian cook who simply said “If I had the money to live, I will cook for free”.

Would you do what you love to do for free?

A recent episode of “Who wants to be a millionare” equivalent in Tamil aired with Actor Arvindswamy as the game player. He was largely a modest man that none of us knew him about. He made a simple statement towards the end, “Whatever you have or you achieve will rot someday including yourself, what matters is with whatever you have and whatever you are, did you make the best, did you have a fun and fulfilling life?”. Ask yourself and look around what you have. They will all decay someday. So go and make the best use of them right now, Don’t postpone your fun!

Let me point to our modern day problem. People are so mixed into the daily affairs that they fail to differentiate between mundane tasks and fulfilling ones. Here is a surprise for you, Every task that you do has an aspect that can give you fun, even if it is really mundane. For example, my job requires me to do Excel and Powerpoint work. While it may sound boring, it is actually fun when you look at how you can think and put your own formatting and presentation. It is a like creating an art on a canvas, free to do the way you want. The requested data didn’t change, but the paint and brush are mine.

By all means, fun is the one that leads us to fulfillment. When people say this hindi phrase “Mazaa aagaya” (means “Had fun”), it means they loved doing something that striked a chord in their heart and made it quiver and the simple phrase popped out as a form of expressing that. Fun is the simplest and basic form of having fulfillment in life.

Yes, you may ask what about ambition and charity.

Ambition or what people call Aim in life is just to give a serious face paint for the basic and core aspect of necessity – “Fun”. It is mostly influenced by successful people. You can find a hell lot of folks in the world who are influenced deeply by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and then they formed their “Aim” in their life. What they don’t know is Gates and Jobs had fun in doing what they did and they never really would have thought their ambition was to get here. They may have been lead to this place step by step. So don’t rush yourself as well. Fulfillment is not about ambition. If you want fulfillment then think deep into your childhood. You will know that the things that you do to have fun gives you a good night sleep and pushing yourself for a career and ambition makes you lose sleep. If you slept well, it means  you did something fulfilling. Fulfillment is larger and beyond than Ambition.

What about charity? If you do this because you have extra money it is meaningless. But if you are able to sense someone in need and provide them with that, without a need to be recognized for your name to appear in a placard, that would give you happiness. This is also actually a kind of fun because it excites in a way for just doing it and not expecting anything in return. You just did it and you did it purely from your own will with absolutely no influence from others and also not because you got some extra cash this month. This is fulfillment, otherwise it is just a celebrity show off.

My friends, all these days, every single one of us have been looking for nothing but Fulfillment and giving several names to it. Some are after ambition, some think charity, some think family, some think career aspirations. At the end, none of them alone will purely give you any permanent fulfillment. The permanent fulfillment is only in the way you see and handle your life. Whatever you do, it has a serious aspect and a fun aspect. The fun aspect gives you fulfillment while the serious aspect keeps you straight and focussed. Both are needed and if you can direct serious aspects to your brain and let the heart see the fun, you will have a fulfilling life in whatever you do. You will not go after fulfillment once you begin to see this. I hope I made some sense.

Have a fun and fulfilling life.