Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Ooh la la!

I am under fire from Señora for lack of exercise regularly these days. All my exercise is now only confined to the jaws and to an extent, the elbows and knees (for constantly shifting between the clutch, the brake and the accelerator and the gear shift in the traffic maelstrom of Bengaluru)

Not that I hate exercise, but its regimentation is what is off-putting and the binge afterwards that moves its net effect to negative. Right from childhood (you have always got those days to blame :-)), the maximum I have been able to bend my back forward with the knees straight is between 70-90 degrees. The hands would never go below the knee, forget touching the ankles or the feet. So much for flexibility! Compare that with Señora who can touch the ground with her palm at the snap of a finger (she is into yoga classes these days, so no dearth of āsanās) or La Niña, who despite being doubly slothful as me, can make a contortionist to cower. My genes do show up in El Niño to an extent with the back-bending (better than me though; he can touch his ankles), but then El Niño can grind 2.5 hours of tennis a day for four days in a week and in addition, some local cricket and badminton before threatening to "work" me out with the stretch exercises from his tennis classes. I do play a game or two of badminton now and then, but it is all hogwash to the powers that be, as an excuse to doze the noons off.

As the year-end exams loom, Señora is busy reading up on the wars of Indian independence, flits across countries and continents, brushes up on ethenes and polymerization, solving math equations, tackles a bunch of life science material and dabbles with Hindi and Sanskrit, as if she had to pass the exams, her Highness happily watches TV, growls on being asked to answer questions or to concentrate on her book rather than on the general chit-chat at home (she's got my genes here, I've to say), draws pretty ink designs on her hands and in notebooks, goes into dreamland regularly and blames Kapil Sibal on the way for the tests. I have had to devise question papers for El Niño, but the inconsistent scores reveal that I do a pretty bad work on testing him and too lenient in getting him to learn. Result, there is one less thing for me to do (not that I can escape it entirely)

So you thought I am reviewing 'Dirty Picture' looking at the title? I am just singing my blues away! :-D :-D

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A new year post

As the new year dawns,
     we wish to wish;
Some for joy,
   and some, wealth;
Some for time,
   and some, health;
Some for love,
   and some, peace;
Some for action,
   and some, quiet;
Some for goals,
   and some, none.
May your apt wishes come true,
   when the night is still blue.

I have not been active in the latter half of the year past, either to post or to reply to posts. Just a tad busy in my world, work and home, in what I might say as being in waxing and waning cycles of cheer. My Google Reader is still actively tracking posts, though the frequency of me reading and following through with comments have reduced to a trickle. I hope that this phase blows over. Not that I am glum these days, but the enthusiasm has plummeted.

Mid-life blues? Maybe, and who knows, and who cares! :-) Welcome 2012!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikkaalam

Deepavali day (Wed, 26-Oct-11), around 2:00 pm at the Marina beach
[Click to view at a better size]
Panorama stitch using Microsoft Image Composite Editor of 5 individual photos taken in sequence

Nice horizon contrast with the northern side being bright and blue and the southern side growling dark with grey.

But, where were the crowds?

Maybe the plethora of TV movies kept them glued, or the new film releases kept them screened, or the intermittent rains reined them in, or the festival hogging kept them in sloth!

The beach looked fine from afar, but where the waves lapped, it was definitely yuck. Junk and garbage throughout, including an animal carcass. Less of plastic though, but lots of other junk. Maybe we (the people) will learn its value only after we lose it.

Spent around 45 minutes at the beach and as we returned back home, it poured for an hour or so. Guess we were plain lucky that day!

Note: The picture resolution and hence quality is reduced as to not tax the Indian Internet. :-)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Short (not so) Takes

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Pixar and animation generally go well. I liked their earlier animated ones (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Up) and also 'Cars' in-spite of all the panning it got from critics. The story line was simple about a racing car that loses its way to go into a 'forlorn sleepy place' off a highway, the friendships it builds with the folks there and some racing excitement. Thought it was fairly balanced on style, sentiment, action, mystery and fun. Kids liked it and the adults too, to be fair. It does grow slowly on you.

And then comes 'Cars 2', a sequel based on most of the characters in the first one and added a few more. My verdict is that they over-engineered it. Difficult storyline to follow with espionage, alternate fuel, mafia and racing intertwined. There is lots of 007esque stunts, gadgetry and action too, but there is only so much you can bear. Worth a mention in the movie are the landscapes. It jumps right out at you, whether it is Tokyo, Paris, London or the Italian Riviera. Looks lovely, especially the Riviera. Few moments of laughter, via Mater, the buck-toothed bumbling tow truck, some smiles with characterizing based on the Brits and lots of action with zipping and stunt cars and being stuck in the gears of the Big Ben.

Could have been a lot better! And to see it in 3D at the Royal Meenakshi Mall's Cinépolis along with outrageously priced pop-corn tubs and nachos, sigh! The sound system at the theatre was thumping awesome. But that cannot redeem a weak movie, can it? And now I wait, for the last of the Harry Potter movies to come to town.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cycles of time

This blog post comes out of the result of some useless "slanted-head" day-dreaming mixed with nostalgia.

Today's generation has it all easy when it comes to bicycles. The cycles come in all sizes and shapes and there is no dearth of options and learning is more or less straightforward. Pick the cycle of the right size, get on it and pedal away with someone running behind you to assist in balance.

When I learnt bicycling, the options were just one. Learn it on my father's bicycle, a big one (Raleigh) at that and usually the hard way. And there were stages in the learning. This assumes that you wanted to learn cycling when your height was just taller than that of the bicycle.

The monkey pedal phase (maybe the most difficult one) was the one you started with since it was apt for your height. The start position was by putting your right leg through the mid triangle section of the cycle to the right side's pedal, the right hand crutching over the seat and the wrist clamping the middle horizontal bar and the left hand holding the handle-bar. All these body-gymnastics may have helped this position earn the moniker of monkey pedal. The cycle was moved forward by standing on the right hand side pedal through the middle bars and pushing the cycle with the left leg and then lift the left leg while coasting and then try to put it on the left pedal to move forward. The pedaling never was mastered easily and there would be the usual falls from the cycle and its bruises, both to the rider and to the cycle and in a few cases to others' property. The balancing was acquired by trial and error. Of course, you could say, the learning might have been easier with a ladies' bicycle where there was no horizontal bar in the middle, but for boys, it was not an option to be an object of ridicule. :-) What a sight it was, of seeing a youngster pedal the big bicycle like a gymnast, steering with one hand and body moving up and down in sync with the pedal. After quite a practice, and once the cycle was in motion, you could come out of the crouch posture and use the right hand to grab the right side of the handle bar, while continuing to monkey pedal. Boy!, you needed more concentration than what sage Narada had to, when he had to carry a bowl full to the brim with oil, on his head as ordered by Lord Vishnu as a story goes.

And then it was time to graduate to the next level, the 'bar'. Though not as difficult as the monkey pedal, this one had its own issues. You had to be either tall enough to put your legs over the middle horizontal bar to reach the pedal at the other side or you have to know how to balance the cycle in motion and do the maneuver. The start was usually by keeping the left leg on the left pedal and by holding the handle bar with both the hands and pushing the cycle forward with the right leg and when sufficient speed has been reached, lift the right leg off and do another gymnastic routine of lifting it over the middle horizontal bar to the other side from the front of the cycle and sit on the bar with legs dangling on both sides to co-ordinate with the pedals. There was more risk of falling down here and in most cases the fall happened inevitably. Once mastered, you are almost an adult in cycling.

The next phase was the 'seat' in which once the 'bar' maneuver is complete, you hoist yourself slightly up to the seat. This is like top of the world to announce that you have arrived on the cycling world. More often than not, the legs wouldn't be tall enough to maintain contact with the pedals all time as they go up and down. You would do the push of the pedal and wait for it on the other side to come up and then push it again to propel. Not too difficult and once in a while the pedal may refuse to rotate up and you'll go to the bar position to set it right.

The last position is an extension of the previous one, the 'carrier'. This demonstrated that you have mastered the art of cycling 60%. Here you drop down to the carrier at the back of the cycle from the seat and continue to pedal. Or you could start with the freewheeling position before the bar and put your right leg over the carrier from the back and then sit into it. Though the handle-bars may be slightly away, you bend over the seat to reach, hold and continue to pedal.

Once you have mastered 'singles' riding, come the 'doubles' and 'triples' and even quadruples (which we used to call '4-bles'). Doubles could be with a co-passenger at the horizontal bar (useful as a romancing prop for the leads in today's movies) or could be one sitting behind you. Triples is obvious. Sometimes you would do the double shunt where both the main 'driver' and the 'co-driver' on the carrier, who will seat himself with legs on either side and assist the cycling with both of them having their legs on the pedals. Typically useful for pedaling on inclined roads.

Of course there have been mishaps by just braking on the front wheel only or skids for harsh braking on the rear wheel on muddy roads. Of course there were a few other stunts which are mastered later, like cycling with no hands on the handle bars (cycling with one hand on the handle bar had already been mastered with the monkey pedal). I never managed to learn wheeling, not that it mattered much, but could have been useful, maybe to impress some lass at that time. :-)

And the joy at mastering each stage, priceless!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What was that?

In the age of children or in the aggressiveness of youth, under an argument or a fight, the following statements are typically uttered.

Saami (or Amma) saththiyama sollu nee idhai pannalai?  [Promise on God (or Mother) (or colloquially, God promise), you never did it?]
Veliya vaadaa, naan gavanichchukkaraen [Come outside bugger, you'll be taken care of (as a dare)]
Dhairiyam irundhaa, irundhu sandai poduraa [If you have the guts, stand and fight] 

I did a double take and ROTFL when I saw the following ad in the newspaper yesterday. Either the CM of Karnataka is naive to wage war with the wily ex-CM in the name of God or his IQ has inched negatively as he aged. Looks like this tête-à-tête is lined for June 27. Oh boy! Who said politics here is drab? With folks like these, it is hilarity at its best. India rocks. :-) :-).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011