October 9, 2009

Mohammad Rafi's 'Meri Mehbooba' remixed

This is an audio clip that I recorded about a month ago when I was on my way to Mumbai Central on a Churchgate-bound slow local from Borivli. I was listening away on my T10 when this 'band' of three came along. Their loud 'music' added to the general noise and rendered my T10 useless as I could not hear a single note through my earphones. That is when I decided to record a nice little sampling of Mumbai local 'music' using the T10.

The number played out by the 'band' is "Meri Mehbooba", the Hindi lyrics and other details of which can be found here. Sung by Mohammad Rafi and composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal, the Mumbai local version I present here is a very different take on the original.

I could have presented an audio clip here, but the problem with Blogger here is that audio clips can be uploaded as they are. So I combined the original audio with a bland Slumdog Millionaire picture (that's how uncreative I can be!) to produce a video clip instead. So put on your speakers or headphones or earphones and play on for some Mumbai local 'music'.

September 7, 2009

Mumbaikar Chirantan Patnaik sets unique gaming world record

A 26-year old Mumbaikar from Napean Sea Road has set the world record for playing the longest non-stop session of the popular PS3 game GTA IV (Grand Theft Auto 4). The previous record of 28 hours and 1 minute was broken by a long way with a huge 40 hours and 20 minutes. The record has not been made official by Guinness as of now, but the entire attempt was streamed live on the gamer's blog.

However, what takes the zing out of the feat is that the competition does not require one to be seated in one place all the while. Breaks of 10 minutes are allowed every hour for eating, etc. With such laxities, I am sure many hardcore gamers may have already accomplished the world record feat, though their feat will never be official. Any ways, hats-off to the guy Chirantan Patnaik as on-off gamers like me can never even dream of playing non-stop for 40 hours, leave alone 5 hours!

August 21, 2009

Microsoft India to train school teachers in IT

The Maharashtra state has accepted an initiative from Microsoft India to train school teachers in Information Technology. The initiative is said to focus on "employability-readiness" among junior college students by imbibing the fundamentals of computing at an early stage.

A step in the right direction, this initiative may result in more students taking up Computer-related science and engineering courses like Computer Science and Information Technology. Who knows, in years to come, this initiative may eliminate the need for IT companies to train students placed in campus recruitments.

I see Microsoft making more inroads into the Indian student scene and making its presence felt in a big way. In late 2007, I attended a sort-of orientation session (there was a name to it, I don't remember exactly) organized by Microsoft for Visual Studio 2008 in the Andheri branch of Aptech and that single session has led me to a probably lifelong association with .NET. Then there was the DreamSpark program early this year which sparked off a huge wave of students appearing for MCTS certification exams and the like. Way to go, Microsoft!

August 20, 2009

The 4-year holiday called Engineering!

An e-mail doing the rounds today - a day when the final Semester results of IT Engineering are out. Here it goes:

The 4-year holiday called Engineering !!!
Things we have to remember.... common to all Engineering friends :
1) The lecturers don’t teach. The students don’t study.. The only guy who benefits is the one who owns the 'dhaba' next to the college.

2) Rules are made to be broken.

3) Deadlines are made to be extended...ALWAYS!

4) Guys always think the girls in the college next lane are more beautiful.

5) The geeks are the most pampered lot during the internal exams.

6) The lab assistants are the most respected people (during the lab exams)

7) Watchmen are the people most bribed.

8) The HOD is the person most respected (heights of sycophancy here).

9) The principal is the person most abused and insulted (behind the back)

10) Dropping subjects is 'cool' (arre yaar… drop the idea of dropping subjects plzz).

11) There is always a lecturer in the college who can’t speak proper 'English'.

12) Night-out is the second most important tool to ace the exams.

13) The most important tool… the bhramastra… is the 'chit' in which the words can be understood only by the person who wrote them (in most of the cases)

14) The freshers are the most seen in the canteen, in the 'free' periods or for completing the records, assignments.

15) The second-years are the ones with the 'I am the don-of-the-college' feeling.

16) The third years are the ones with the 'so-many-backlogs' feeling and the poor souls get down to studying after bossing around in the college for so long. But the fun still continues…

17) The fourth years have no connection with the college whatsoever...with no interest in ragging, pulling each other’s legs, the b'day parties, the b'day bums etc all which they enjoyed so much till now. All they want is a good placement and a 1st-class tag attached to their memo.
19) The first three years are spent in cursing the college, the people there, the system and all.
20) But towards the end of the fourth year, people tend to feel nostalgic about the pure unadulterated fun they have had for 4 years. Now the very system they disliked, the very canteen they cursed, the time that they spent there, the b’day bums they suffered… all these seem like heaven to them… As a engineering student everyone wanted to get out of the college fast... Now they realize that incomplete journal, and KT’s were far better than unfulfilled dreams & broken emotions... miss the engineering life…

(Disclaimer: Not all of the ideas expressed above are endorsed by the author of the blog)

August 14, 2009

English batting - a chore!

Having watched a see-saw Ashes series so far with 4 Tests all different from each other, the most shocking thing to witness was that England batsmen have just 1 century among them, while all the Australian top-order batsmen have had at least 1 century each (with the exception of maybe Hussey - I may have got my facts wrong here!)

Sitting through the English batting is really boring in any situation. The BBC middle order (Bopara, Bell, Collingwood) is the saddest middle order in cricketing history and the openers are, well, not much different. Strauss leaves alone maybe some 80-odd percent of the time, but he has good strokes which Collingwood may never manage in his entire life. The reason why Collingwood saved the first Test was obvious - he is basically a blocker and nudger, he just can't hit the ball, due to lack of skill or power or both. Cook is a very good batsman, but his dismal Ashes campaign just makes the English batting that much sadder.

The lower middle order has by far been the best. There are some truly good stroke makers there, with Prior being the best of them. In fact, Prior has been the unsung hero for England all along, I feel. Prior's batting in the second innings at Lord's and the first innings at Edgbaston saw some breathtaking strokes and an excellent strike-rate as well. In many ways, he ats like Sehwag - if the ball's there to be hit, hit it. Flintoff was the hero for England at Edgbaston, and if it were not for a fluke Hauritz ripper, he well may have got another Ashes century. Broad and Swann are no mugs with the bat, and their batting at Headingley in the second innings was something to behold. Nasser Hussain termed Broad as the next English all-rounder after Flintoff. Well, let's see!
During the fourth test, commentators joked about reversing the English batting order for the fifth Test, but it may just turn out to be effective for England. I say, get Bopara and Collingwood to bat at no. 7 and 8 and things will be just fine!

Prejudice - such a disease!

It is never easy to be purely unprejudiced in any human thought process. Just like sin and lies, one can never say that one has never thought or acted with prejudice. But, prejudice can plague the human mindset in ways we never realize. Prejudice pervades our very vision - what looks good ought to be good, and what looks bad ought to be bad. We associate prejudice with extremes like racism, casteism and religious intolerance, but there are more relevant forms right among us.
Take the case of a Municipality school student boarding a BEST bus. The "Municipality color" of his uniform is instantly repulsive, and the aunties have that all-too-familiar frown on their faces. The bus conductor gets louder and ruder with his "Ticket", and the smile with which the child had entered is suddenly gone. The coins are snatched from the child's hand, the ticket is pushed back, and he is ordered to go ahead, if not pushed.
"चल आगे!! (Move ahead!!)", the conductor thunders.
The child goes and stands in a corner up ahead, quietly waiting for his destination, trying to avoid looking at anyone. He looks up occasionally, but the disgusted look on an aunty's face pushes his head down again.
This is just one example of how much prejudice there is in the modern human mind. And just like in the case of the Municipality student, there's not much logic or reason behind the prejudice,
"He's just sick", they say.
One never realizes how much prejudice has clouded one's mind unless something drastic happens. "Melting pot" Mumbai needed an MNS to make it realize just how much prejudiced it was towards the Marathi language. English is the de facto standard, Hindi is for colloquial and slang, Gujarati is for the Gujaratis, but Marathi is just so "sad". Why?
School admission time for kids and parents ask -
"Where are the English medium schools nearby?"
"But there's a Marathi medium school just across the street!"
"वेडी झाली आहेस का? (Are you mad?)"
Prejudice is such an affliction!

July 9, 2009

Peter Siddle's in the league of 'bowling' bowlers

Peter Siddle
A keen cricket observer may have noticed how often Peter Siddle gets stumps flying. Just yesterday, he bowled out two well-set batsmen Flintoff and Prior just as the day's play was about to close. In an Australia-South Africa Test Match at the SCG recently, Siddle bowled out the last 4 wickets in the span of 5 overs, which was a great turnaround in the match.

Peter Siddle is one of the few bowlers now who has a good percentage of wickets bowled out. His express pace is not uncommon, but he keeps the ball within the stumps and so he has a good chance of getting batsmen out bowled or lbw.

I got some research done on some of the greatest fast bowlers as well as some modern fast bowlers to throw up a list of fast bowlers sorted according to the combined percentage of lbw and bowled dismissals in Tests.

Bowlers with most percentage bowled and lbw dismissals

LBW (%)
Bowled (%)
Total (%)
Roy Gilchrist (WI)
Shoaib Akhtar (Pak)
Waqar Younis (Pak)
Wasim Akram (Pak)
Joel Garner (WI)
Imran Khan (Pak)
Aaqib Javed (Pak)
Michael Holding (WI)
Lasith Malinga (SL)
Charlie Griffith (WI)
Kapil Dev (India)
S Sreesanth (India)
Irfan Pathan (India)
Jerome Taylor (WI)
Wes Hall (WI)

The minimum criterion used in the above table is 50 Test wickets, which is why Roy Gilchrist makes it to the top, with 51 Test wickets. Bowlers who played in 1920s and 30s have been left out for the sake of relevance.

Haddin getting bowled by Malinga in World T20 2009This list is dominated by West Indians and Pakistanis. It is heartening to see 3 Indians making the list. This list may or may not be accurate, because I may or may not have left out some very good bowlers. This is, however, no comment on other bowling greats like Hadlee and Lillee, who could not make it to this list. The greatness of a bowler does not depend just on the number of wickets he takes or his mode of dismissals.

July 8, 2009

Sri Lanka wake up Pakistan!

Rangana HerathSri Lanka woke up Pakistan from their early morning slumber on the fourth day of the first Test at Galle and what a wake up call it was! From an invincible 71-2 to 117 all out in exactly one session, Pakistan players seemed to have slept extra the previous night, thinking the Test was in their kitty.

And lo, it was not the magic of Ajantha Mendis, or the snaking deliveries from Murali, but it was the modest left-arm spin of Rangana Herath, and the pace of an energized-from-god-knows-what Thilan Thushara that did Pakistan in.

Cricket greats have said that Pakistan are unbeatable ON THEIR DAY. Well, it certainly wasn't their day, and more so, not their session. That is why Test Cricket is so cruel - you play well for 4 days, but it takes just a magic spell from the opposition on the 5th day to turn everything around. Even then, Pakistan should not have lost the match so badly.

MuraliIt is not the first time that Sri Lanka have delivered such early morning SHOCKS. In Delhi in 2005, India crumbled from a strong first day 245-3 to 290 all out on the second morning. The wrecker-in-chief there was Murali and it was the first innings of the Test Match, not the last. India went on to win the match, but the match is still in memory for Murali's haul of more than five wickets.

Always keep an eye out for a Test Match morning session when Sri Lanka is bowling.

July 2, 2009

Exciting Table Tennis - Paul Drinkhall vs Jorgen Persson

Yesterday afternoon, I was lucky to watch one of the best table tennis matches I have seen - Paul Drinkhall vs Jorgen Persson. Hold on, I don't follow table tennis much - I was just browsing through TV channels when I saw these guys on ESPN.

Jorgen Persson is a Swedish player, a 43 year old veteran of the sport playing since as early as 1983. In complete contrast, Paul Drinkhall is a 19 year old bright British talent, a National Champion in every eligible age group in the country. The contrast was evident, both in gameplay style and swiftness - but the range of shots is simply superb for both.

Enough of background, just enjoy the video of the match. This video shows the highlights, I had watched the entire match replay on ESPN. This video is good enough, though!

July 1, 2009

Farewell, Michael Vaughan!

Michael Vaughan, the most successful captain for the England Cricket Team in Tests, announced his retirement, though not entirely unexpectedly. After being left out of the England Test squad for the upcoming Ashes and with fitness and consistency never being on his side over a prolonged period, Vaughan apparently was left with no choice.

Vaughan's most significant contribution to cricket were his technically correct, effortless and sublime cover drives, and of course, the Ashes victory in 2005. He was single-handedly responsible for reviving interest in Test Cricket, crafting a neat and planned series victory over the till-then invincible Aussies. (Which Indian cricket fan does not like to see the Aussies going down!)

When he was in form, he was tough to get out and had a supremely good year in 2002 when he amassed nearly 1500 Test runs. He is one of the best cricket captains in the modern game, having seen heavyweights like Flintoff and Pietersen blossom under his regime. Many players in the current England team owe their place to him.

Vaughan's case just another to show how brutally injuries can mar a cricketer's career. Leave out the knee injuries and the situation could have been different for Vaughan now. We have bid farewell to a fair number of cricket greats in the last18 months or so. Here's bidding an honorable farewell to yet another!

June 30, 2009

The Bandra-Worli sealink opens tonight

The highly anticipated and much discussed Bandra-Worli sea link will opened to the public at midnight today. Some sort of pre-inauguration happened today morning with dazzling lights and lasers, fireworks as well as thousands of onlookers. It will be officially inaugurated tonight by Smt. Sonia Gandhi. It is being touted as being the pride of not only Mumbai, but also India as it is one of the first sea bridges built here. It took 10 years for it to come real, 5 years more than expected and after much resistance from the local fishing community.

The bridge has managed to generate much hype and attention, with potential commuters already thinking toll plans to be taken. The bridge will operate toll-free from July 1 to July 5, a politically motivated move. Also, just 4 out of the 8 lanes will be operational for the first 6 months from now. So, the bridge will be 'fully' operational close to New Year.

At 5.6 km length with 8 lanes, the bridge promises to cut down the daily commute time between Bandra and Worli from 40 minutes to 7-8 minutes. A lot has been said about what a gigantic engineering marvel it is - steel rope as much as the circumference of the earth, weight of nearly 50,000 African elephants and what not. But what is most noble about the bridge is its purpose - reducing traffic on the congested Mahim Causeway and providing a quick and comfortable ride to Mumbai's harried commuter.

What will be interesting to see is how the average Mumbaikar reacts to all the infrastructural changes happening around. The sea link is only the beginning - the Metro is in its first phase, skywalks are mushrooming everywhere and the Link Road from Mira Road to Santacruz is 90% complete. The Mumbaikar will notice how Mumbai's landscape has changed dramatically over the last 5-6 years. Open spaces are being eaten up, roads are getting congested and trains have not improved much in spite of the quadrupling of tracks and all. In 5-10 years from now, Mumbai will be completely different - for better or for worse!

Here's s nice map for you to pore over - though it is a bit old one at the time of this writing - the sea link is under construction in this map!

June 25, 2009

SSC results out

SSC results are out and Latur is in the spotlight again. After all, a state topper with 98 odd percent never goes unnoticed. What's more interesting here is that Mumbai is the third last among the eight divisions in Maharashtra with a pass percentage of 78.66%.

Read the newspaper and you'll see figures and comparisons, interviews and quotes from toppers, teachers and principals. And don't forget the 'special' kids - Down syndrome, night schools, you name it. But what really takes the cake this time round is Kapil Sibal's announcement about scrapping Class 10 board exams altogether. That is some news!

Eyebrows are being raised over Mumbai's dismal performance this time. It is believed that students with Marathi as primary medium have fared poorer than those with English. That does not indicate anything. What is credible is, as the principal of a Vidyalaya in Dadar says, is that children in cities are more focused on 'all-round development', not as much on academics.

Now, that 'all-round development' term is synonymous with 'distraction'. It is plain - children now are much more distracted than say what we were, six years before. I don't say that we 2003 passouts were a very studious lot. But, a peek into the lives of Mumbai teenagers today, and you'll say that's a lot stuffed in there.

There are coaching classes. And that too, 2 or 3 of them for each.With a school duration of 5-6 hours and 1-1.5 hours for each coaching class (or private tuition), there's not much time left even to have a proper meal. I recently taught Mathematics to one SSC student, (I went to his place and taught twice a week) and I was his third Maths teacher after the school teacher and a Private Tuition teacher. I was required for "additional guidance" in Maths, and that too from June! Allegedly, the student was not "motivated" enough in Maths. He had to appear for two Prelims in school, weekly tests in each of his 3 private tuitions (Maths-Science, Hindi-Marathi, English) and "additional guidance" from me and one other. WTF! The student had lost all interest in life and constantly fought with his mother in whatever little time he spent at home.The student was in such a bad condition by January, I just quit. I told him, "Dude, you have 2 months. Go for a vacation!"
Who's to blame for all this? Sshhhh!

I called him up yesterday to ask about his results. Don't worry, he had not committed suicide! He had scored 75% overall, with a "not-so-good" 100 out of 150 in Maths and 78 out of 150 in Science.
I said,
"Yet, you managed 75%".
"Yes, 147 in Social Sciences".
"Whoa! Great! Good going! So what are you planning to do?"
"I am not. Mom is."

My father was SHOCKED on hearing the 98.61% aggregate of the topper in the news. Calming down, he said it's all a part of the liberalization by the state board to keep up with the other boards.
"No, dad, look! That's Latur, not Mumbai!"

All the best to the Indian Cricket Team!

The India vs West Indies ODI series begins tomorrow and I just cannot wait to see the Indian team in action again. Although there is no Zaheer, Sachin, Sehwag and even Irfan, it certainly is THE strongest team in ODIs.

The thing I am most excited about is the performance of the new players. Abhishek Nayar is a very exciting prospect as seen in my favourite IPL team Mumbai Indians. His almost-match-winning innings in the humdinger against Rajasthan Royals with that extra-cover six off Johan Botha is still fresh in memory (his dismissal the very next ball also is!). Ravindra Jadeja has till now been seen only in T20 - it will be interesting to see how he plays the ODIs. He is more valuable as a bowler and fielder than a batsman and Dhoni will keep that in mind always after that disastrous innings against England in the World T20! Pragyan Ojha is one of the best spinners in form, and along with Harbhajan Singh, the duo can be a handful. In fact, Harbhajan Singh is one of the best middle-over bowlers in ODIs.

The players who have been in the team for quite some time need to pull up their socks. Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni need to get their act together in batting - Yuvraj seems to have sleepy body language while Dhoni needs to look more for the boundaries - simply trying to increase one's batting average to be counted among the best is a folly for the team. I am not saying that he is not a team player - it is just that he must bat better than what he is now and not many will disagree with me on that. Gautam Gambhir is surprisingly in bad form (after all, he is a human!). Right since the IPL, he does not seem to be timing the ball well. The ODI format will serve him right to get back in form. Rohit Sharma's lazy elegance has deserted him as of now but he is a class player and will bounce back.

You may say that the Indian team is not the best team right now, keeping in mind the World T20. But, writing off a team for just 2 losses on 2 bad days would be a folly. India WILL shine in WI and win the ODI series. In spite of the renewed confidence of the WI team, I feel that WI will not be up to the task (Gayle likes ONLY T20 anyway and so does the team and the nation). Their bowling will be taken apart and their batting, though promising, may just win them a match at most.

So, here's wishing WI all the best, and India all the matches!

June 5, 2009

Hello and Welcome!

Hello, reader!
Welcome to my first full-fledged blog. I just gave the last exam in my Bachelor in Engineering (I.T.) graduate course last week and am feeling free and relieved. My experience with the Mumbai University syllabus and education system was a mixed bag and I would not like to recount even a bit here. Though I must mention one thing, "Aptitude does not necessarily translate into good grades" here in Mumbai University. (Many of my more illustrious friends and bloggers will testify to this fact.)
My posts will mostly be tech-based - although I will be providing links to my other programming blog(s) (if at all I make one) as and where necessary. So you must not be caught unawares anywhere. You may find my posts inclined towards some major topics (Google, Windows 7 maybe), so I'll try to categorize them for ease of reading.
So, that's it! Hope you have an enriching time at this blog and Happy Blogging!