Wednesday, May 7, 2008

For the lazy friends of mine!

Ahh.. there were a few frnds who complained it was a pain to visit the site and that they did rather have me post my articles here like I've done with my previous work. So here it goes. But mind you, I did rather you go visit the site cause like I said earlier I've designed the site too!!!! so... :D

Edited Version: (after the above post)
It is a damn pain to post all my articles. There are 7 of them in total. Sigh.

The Investigative Report that won me the best IP award at ACJ

Yes yes, I completely agree. It's been ages, but you know.. :D

Anyways am posting a link to my Investigative Report that I did at ACJ. I've looked at the different aspects of recruitment by IT companies across engineering colleges in Chennai. Your comments/feedback are most welcome

Investigative Report
P.S: The site has been designed by yours truly :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

End or the beginning.............?

I know I blog in sporadic bursts, but ACJ has taken most of my time. Which is also the reason why am blogging in the midst of all the chaos and pending work that is due on March 31st.

Yes, thats my last day for submission of all my work in order to obtain my Journalism degree, but like most things in ACJ dont think all our assignments will meet this deadline. They cant blame us, they have overloaded us with soooooooooooooooo much work that at two different points in my final term, I wanted to quit ACJ and give it up.

But common sense prevailed and shouts like "Are you mad? You are this close to getting your degree and you want to quit? Crazy girl!" from various corners of the room were reasons for me to go on.

Now that the end of life in ACJ seems so near, I am actually missing the dread of meeting deadlines and the labs seem lifeless.

The past few days that I have spent in labs 3 and 4, make me feel so lonely that I cant sit there for more than a few minutes at a stretch. The labs are empty without the 'staff'' of Digantik working on the site. There is no hollering out, "Is that story in? Where is the damn reporter?" and the frustration creeping in, "Why is the damn style sheet not attached? Why are the links not working?". The tension, "Are MJ and Gita going to approve of this headline? Is the banner all right?" All of this is gone, to be replaced my silence. Although most of us were stressed out with the tension in our news rooms or in this case, news labs.. we used to thrive on it too. We made scores of mistakes and our two Hitlers ensured that we learnt from them.

The postmortems as MJ and Gita liked to call it, but Manikandan, our software prof, thought it was uncool and unfair to call it that as he felt that we were creating something (our site) and not killing it. Nevertheless, all three of them joined hands when it came to ripping the site apart and pointing out our mistakes. Of course, after asking us what our problems were. But at most times I thought that was just a formality and the true reason was that they were eager to get their teeth in.

ACJ is/was stressful annd I have had my moments when I wanted to tear someone else's hair out (mine is too good ;) ), but I also learnt to tame myself and keep my short temper in check.

Alas, it has to end. But there is also a beginning.. to life outside of ACJ which begins with our placements on April 1st. And like a true ACJian, am looking forward to the fun of sitting it a room with media bigwigs and although I did like to tell them that we are a bunch of crazy people to the all that we do, I shall sedately sit there and sell my talents to them. In this case, my ACJ degree will do most of the selling for me. :D

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Laugh your way to health

Doctors may not agree that laughter is therapeutic, neither is there a scientific way to explain the healing powers of laughter. However, 15 members of the Laughter Club at Marina beach believe that, “Laughter is the best medicine” and practice it despite a skeptic audience. Every morning they begin their day with a 45-mts session of laughter.

Manohar Bokadia, a businessman, is the initiator of this club. He said, “Do not call me the club founder. Laughter has been around for centuries. I haven’t discovered it.” His technique includes combining laughter with breathing exercises, which he learnt from Dr. Madan Kataria, a general physician in Mumbai. To spread laughter, he has set up laughter clubs in different parts of Chennai – Haddows Road, Besant Nagar, T.Nagar, and Harrington Road. To be a member one does not have to pay. “You cannot take money to make someone laugh, and then you aren’t making them laugh. You are upsetting them by asking for money,” he laughs.

To keep them laughing Bokadia has named the exercises according to their purpose. The ‘boxing laugh’ is for people to punch their anger out. People form two groups and laugh as they pretend to box. He explained, “This helps people to release negative energy from the body.”

Dr. Pravin Agarwal, general physician at Apollo Hospital, said, “It is true that the common reasons for headaches are anger or nagging thoughts. Maybe laughter can help to a certain extent, but not always.” On a lighter note he added, “While laughing the face muscles are stretched removing the wrinkles from ones face, it would help in making one look younger.”

One of the exercises involves pressing the head with the palms while breathing in and out while laughing. This is an alternative to Pranayama, the breathing exercise in yoga. It helps releasing unwanted energy and keeping headaches away.

The ‘beer laughter’ is the most popular cheering routine. This strengthens the bladder and helps them hold their urine for as long as 30 minutes. All they have to do is place their left hand on their kidney (“pot-belly”) and touch their toes with their right hand while laughing. The ‘backhand swim’ walk helps reduce weight. Kavitha, a 55-year-old grandmother said, “I am as thin as my daughter because of this. So why would I not want to laugh and lose weight?”

Jayvel, former Crime Branch Inspector and a trained Siddha practioner, suffered a 30 per cent heart blockage in 2002. But after joining the club, his blockage cleared and humour found its way back into his life. He said, “I did not need to undergo bypass surgery. After one year of daily dose of laughter, my blockage was completely gone.”

The daily routine also includes pressing acupressure points. Pressing these points activates them and circulates the blood throughout the body. This also prevents heart attacks. Bokadia said, “When you clap with your palms spread out, you are pressing all your acupressure points. Clapping 1000 times everyday is equivalent to a 10 km walk.” Thanks to hearty laughs he no longer worries about those hearty meals “Because of these exercises, I have lost 80 kgs in the past three years and my hair too has grown back.”

There are many others like Bokadia who have recaptured some part of their life that was missing. K. Lal has gained the self-confidence he lacked five years back. He said, “I used to stutter a lot as I was shy. But after coming here it has improved.” Laughter improves team building, communication skills and self-esteem.

There are also members like Radhakrishna who believe that prevention is better than cure. He said, “I do not suffer from any sickness, maybe the laughter has kept them at bay. I come here to forget my worries.”

Next time you a see a group of people laughing hysterically early morning, do not laugh at them, but laugh with them. The happy hormones in the body are waiting to be released.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Shash's DRAGON!

This is Shash's new ART form. This art work is still in progress. He says it is "a graphic from wheel of time". Ask him what he made this from? His promptly replies, "Vertices and polygons." He emphasizes, "Do not forget the polygons."

And for people like me, just go vistit

"A graphic from wheel of time" refers to the wheel of time by robert jordan. The main character is Rand al'Thor, who's called the Dragon Reborn. Naturally, with 12 books out and the 13th coming, there's a big story behind it, but whenever rand appears in a chapter, it's preceded by that graphic. He has jus added depth to the blue dragon (See the picture with the red dragon). It is actually a 3d model which he extrapolated from the 2d drawing. If you notice around the eyes
and the claws there's some amount of shadowing.
For more of his pictures, Visit: (Click on the image to grow it)

KNOL no threat to Wikipedia says Jimmy Wales

Okay the following is the OFFICIAL report I wrote with my friend Brat on my dinner date with Jimmy Wales.

Chennai: “I am not worried about Google introducing KNOL.” said Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. KNOL is Google’s online encyclopedia. Wales was on his second visit to India to address undergraduates across the country and spoke to reporters in Chennai on Saturday evening.

He said, “Google’s blog says this (KNOL) is not an open source software whereas ours is. This is where our strength lies. I am not worried about them.” Wales added that Wikipedia had built trust with their users and that would stay with them. His idea of starting a free online encyclopedia was criticized as a Utopian goal, but Wikipedia is now synonymous with information on the net and is inevitably the first or second on a google search result.

“I am happy with where wikipedia stands now. It has reached where I wanted it to be; even an African child can access information in his or her own language,” said Wales
Wikipedia is now available in 250 languages.

According toWales a major problem in updating information in other languages is the lack of a vernacular keyboard. He said, “Maybe if phonetics were used to type in one’s own language it would be comparatively easier.”

He did not think adding a video or an audio element to the pages was a great idea and firmly dismissed the possibility of Wikipedia introducing them. He said, “It is difficult to edit the content of a video or audio for facts or for bias. There is no advanced software that would help in editing them to our needs.” He added, “Personally, I prefer reading text. If I get a call, the text is still there where I left it. It is not the same with a video.”

On the latest clash of the Titans, Wales voiced his doubts on the Yahoo – Microsoft deal and was quick to point out that Yahoo mail had many more users than gmail. However, underlining Google’s status as the best search engine, he said “You always google for something. You do not go to Yahoo for search.” He conceded that Yahoo was a good news portal and that Yahoo messenger was widely used.

David Appasamy, Communications Manager of Sify, said, “Yahoo and Microsoft are two disparate companies and they wouldn’t do well together.” Wales agreed with Appasamy. Appasamy also added, “Yahoo has been on a decline for the past two years. This is an act of desperation by both.”

Friday, February 8, 2008

In Parsi land: 'Andar aao ni' (Come on in)

Nai nai, you are quoting too much for the tomatoes, Rs 14 is right. After all, yesterday you sold it at Rs 12, and today Rs 16. What nonsense!” argued Dilnaz, a 45-year-old housewife living in Cusrow baug in Colaba, Mumbai. Dressed in a pink flowery nightgown at eight in the morning, she is haggling over the vegetable prices with the tarkariwala (vegetable seller). This is a familiar sight at any Parsi baug in Mumbai.

Most Parsis live in secluded colonies called ‘baug’ that are built by various trusts headed by industrialists like the Wadias and Godrej’s or by the local Parsi Panchayat. The baugs of Mumbai, Cusrow, Rustom, Jer, Godrej, Novroj, Ness, Malcolm, Behram, Panthaky, Bharucha, Firozsha and Contractor, to name a few are home to 35,000 of the 40,000 Zoroastrians. Each baug has its own unique layout with the buildings surrounding the agiary (fire temple) and garden. The baugs with their arched entrances have tall trees that provide shade to the Victorian style buildings enclosed within a compound wall. Each baug has ten of these buildings in the very least that are spread across five acres of land, some of them more, and they house 100 families on an average.

First built in 1912 in Mumbai by the Parsi Panchayat, the baugs are now more than just an address for the Parsis; they are an essential part of their distinct identity. After the first baug, several more were built in 1937 and after the World War II to provide houses for the Zoroastrian community at affordable rates. Even today a Zoroastrian who wants to own or rent a house in a baug can apply to the trustees and will be offered a place based on availability.
Each baug has its own doodhwalla (milkman) and pauwalla (bread man) along with their own tarkariwalla who become part of the extended family and are familiar with the needs of each family. Quibbling over prices is an enjoyable ritual for them.Nanu bhaiyya, the vegetable vendor in Cusrow Baug, said, “I have been coming here for 30 years now and nothing has changed. Every morning I still have to explain to memsahib why I cannot give her a 50 per cent discount. I do not mind because she is like my family now.” The goswalla (meat seller) is the most sought after as a true Parsi cannot imagine a meal without a mutton dish. Ras-gosh, an authentic parsi dish which is a mutton gravy made of apricots and garam masala and eaten with with naram pau (soft white bread), is finger-licking good and a dish to die for.

A baug is a closed community where everybody knows everybody else and if Jahanbax dikro is studying or not. Freni, a 64-year-old in the Old Parsi Agiary in Secunderabad, with her snowy white hair tied back in a braid and a scarf over her head, said, “These children in the colony are like my own. Every evening when I go down to meet my friends; I take a few chocolates for the children.” She laughed and added, “That is the only time they come to me. Otherwise when I ask them how their studies are going and are they troubling their parents, they run away from me.”
Asking questions is natural in the baug whether it is the day’s menu or is Rustom still dating the same chokri (girl). Sanobar, a 30-year-old housewife, said “Every afternoon my neighbour hollers across the passage asking me what I have cooked. When I first moved in, I was baffled. But now if Dolly Aunty doesn’t ask me I would think something has happened to her.” On cue, Dolly Aunty, a cheerful 54-year-old housewife, walked into Sanobar’s flat and said, “It is nice to know what the other is cooking. It’s a sense of being loved. Sometimes we also send food across. This way we ensure the feeling of being a part of one big family.” There are two to three flats on each floor, facing each other. Residents talk across their grilled doors which are always open and people also walk in and out of each other’s home frequently.

While the women exchange recipes the men of the baug discuss matters of the world: on whether 'Bipasha Basu is more attractive or whether Aishwarya Rai retained her charisma even after marriage’. These men or bawajis, dressed in leghas (loose, flappy pajamas)and sudras (a religious vest made of handspun cotton) with a topi (a religious cap) on their bald pates meet every evening in the large garden around the baug’s agiary (fire temple).

Their mornings are spent in their arm-chairs reading the newspapers and slurping tea from their abominably large cup and saucer every morning. Darius Uncle, a 70-year-old grandfather, prefers Bipasha Basu. He exclaimed, “Dikra (child), she is smart and sexy. She has brains to go with the beauty.” And clinching the argument, “After all she is going out with aapro dikro (our son) John Abraham.”

But Jehangir Uncle, a 65-year-old retired bank manager, argued, “Bipasha hasn’t had as many hits in her kitty as Ash has. Even after marriage she (Ash) is going strong. That never used to happen in our times. After marriage the heroines had to settle at home.”

Younger men of the baug are not part of these animated discussions. Jehangir Uncle said in a mischievous tone, “All these cutlets (‘young parsi boys who have meat and no brains’) are busy wooing the fatakrees (a variation of the Gujrati word fatakra meaning cracker) in the colony.” He smiled wistfully and murmured, “In our days we had only one fatakree for the entire colony and now there are so many for them to pick from!”
The fatakrees are not the only reason that keeps the cutlets away from the elders. They feel that the elders pry too much into their lives and can be embarrassing. Pervez, a 22-year-old M.Com student said, “They are so inquisitive that they need to know everything from the ice cream you ate to the girl who dropped you back home.” But Roxanne, a 21-year-old student, said “I will be lost if I no longer hear my neighbours bellowing out at one another.” She emphasized, “I am so used to them discussing their family drama across two floors; it is now a source of entertainment for me.”

No matter what their complaints are, youngsters do not want to move out. Pervez said, “I am so used to it that I can’t think of living anywhere else.” Hormazd, a 23-year-old, said “Living in a baug is dirt cheap. We pay only Rs 600 a month as rent and live in the most posh part of the city which is Napean Sea Road. The same 500 square feet flat will cost at least Rs 20,000 a month. So why would I even think of moving out?!” Godrej baug, on Napean Sea Road, was built in 1984-85 by the Bombay Parsi Panchayat.

A baug is home for the Zoroastrians, a community space for them to bond; a haven where time seems to pause for gossip and naram pau.