Sunday, May 29, 2005

‘Code to Zero’ – Ken Follett

“GRIPPING” – The New York Times.
Gripping is possibly one word which describes ‘Code to Zero’ the best. The espionage story makes you turn the pages continuously, and never lets you put the book down for long.
The story moves back and forth between the 1940s and the latter part of 1950. It revolves around Dr. Claude Lucas, or Luke, a NASA rocket scientist who has discovered a secret so terrible; his enemies wipe off his memory to keep themselves safe.
The future of the American space research lies in the just-to-be-launched Explorer I and the Russians are trying their best to keep America from gaining supremacy in the area of space research. And the Explorer I is the de facto hero of the story, who everyone is either trying to protect or destroy.
The story also describes friendships at Harvard, friendships whose definitions are forever changing. Luke’s relationships with Anthony (his roommate), Elspeth (a Radcliff redhead, his girlfriend) and Billie (Bilhah Josephson, who he has fallen for) and their relationships with each other, all play major roles in the story.
The book traces the lives of these people and how they change over the years under the influence of the cold war and emerging communism. All these converge in a very fast ending, which is too convenient, but not entirely unrealistic.
The best thing about the book is how the story keeps moving into flashback, but still never confuses you. And a major minus point is that, it doesn’t spring any surprises. It is not a ‘whodunnit’ but a ‘howdunnit’. And Follett succeeds in making you read the book in spite of that.
Trust, betrayal, love, loyalty, patriotism, all find a place in the book. ‘Code to Zero’ is ingenious and entertaining. It makes good reading.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Aaj ke bacche, I tell you!!

This one is about my 7-year-old cousin. And he is special, ‘coz he is a genius!
I was meeting him after a long time. He showed me the movements he uses in karate. He is a blue belt I believe. He is a silver medallist in some karate competition for kids at all Mumbai level.
But that he is a genius, I was soon to get to know. He is a whiz at math. His brainpower is incredible! He knows the whole calendar for the next 100 years. Just give him any date and he can tell you on which day of the week it falls. And he is always right (we checked!)
And what's more, he can calculate faster than the calculator. Only additions and subtractions for now, but with amazing speed and accuracy. He always comes first at any math test/quiz (including the Olympiads) even beating 10-11 year olds.
He is also an expert at computers (for his age) and I believe he can even design PowerPoint presentations (for what, I don’t know!).
Whew!! I was dumbstruck at all his amazing talents when I was introduced to one more of them. The kid knows so many bhajans, kirtans and shlokas, he can teach a pujari a thing or two!
All this made me wonder. The world today is very competitive. My cousin leaves home for school at 9 am and return only by 9 – 9:30 pm. Karate class, computer class, math class (to polish his talent),………he seems to have no time for games, or kiddie talk. Is 7-8 the age by when you know the pressures of competition, of standing first always and getting 100 in math? I don’t know.
Maybe it is. And maybe, this is how he will get the edge over others when he writes board exams (8 years later) or entrance exams (even later!).
But today, we are in a world where a three year old has to pass an exam to get admission to LKG. In the race to future success, isn’t the child really losing his present, to live the life of a kid, careless and free?

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

First Time at the Wheel

‘The Scaredy Cat’ gives a great example of how I am capable of getting scared at the most normal occurrences. Another of my major fears has been the accelerator, as in, accelerator of the 2 wheeler, car…. I have always had a small case of motorophobia (if there is such a thing!).
I have always been a late starter as far as vehicles are concerned. I could never drive a bicycle properly, and so never mustered up courage to get a 2-wheeler license. I remember the time I’d banged into a neighboring house’s compound wall while ‘driving’ the scooter. Though I escaped unhurt, I managed to break the front brakes of the scooter. Most of my friends who drive tell me that they have had worse accidents. But after that one incident, I vowed to always be just a pillion rider.
But my dad just wouldn’t hear the excuses anymore. He has always been insistent that I at least learn car driving. And this time, I had to obey him.
So, I met the driving school people. When dad was out of earshot, I told them of my fears. They said, that’s ok; we’ll take care of it.
With great apprehensions I sat in the car the next day. I was shown the clutch, break and accelerator. I was shown how to accelerate. I was told how to turn the steering wheel and how to hold it (at an angle like the 10:10 on the clock, if you please!). And then I was asked to take the wheel. Just like that. Sir assured me that he had the controls on his side as well. Just not enough to assure me!!
But then, I started off. And …. I just wanted to go on and on. What is so scary about driving, I now ask myself. In future, I’ll drive my own car. No waiting for auto rickshaw, taxi or bus as I do today. And so, I want to learn driving well.
I look forward to the driving everyday. ‘Coz, I’m not scared of the accelerator anymore!


Monday, May 23, 2005

Folks, I’ve been Lazy!!

Into the second week of my chutti, I find that I’ve written just one post and just started my first novel of the vacations. Now, I’ve always been kinda active, with ideas for posts springing into my mind at regular intervals and then rushing to type it out before I forget.
But the past 10 days, I’ve been slower than the slowest tortoise (?), sluggish and basically LAZY. Yes! That’s it! Laziness is probably the disease that affects a majority of people who, after weeks of hard work (modest, ain’t I?), suddenly taste freedom. For me, it is freedom from studies for at least a whole month. (Never experienced it since we didn’t have more than a week of holidays during engineering). I found myself just sitting in front of the TV most of my waking hours. A nap during noon has found its way into my daily schedule, even though it never was a habit with me before.
But not anymore. I have decided to pull up my socks and DO SOMETHING. Lethargy has never done anyone any good (wise words!!). I finally went to the library (which incidentally is just on the opposite lane!). And I’m currently reading Ken Follett’s ‘Code To Zero’. It feels great to be reading a proper novel after weeks.
And yes, I’ve resolved to blog more frequently.
I hadn’t read ‘The Week’ and ‘India Today’ since the last week of April. Got down to reading them yesterday. Nowadays I read the newspaper only to check the calendar for the movies on air. Deplorable. Why is it that during exams when you are scrapped for time, you want to read the newspaper & weeklies; you get ideas for posts which you cannot post on time, but when you have all the time in world, you just wanna laze?
Anyway, life is slowly coming back to normal and I’m finding means to get out of this inertia. Wish me all the best!!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

On a day like Today………

Went on a picnic today with mom, dad and brother. Actually, my brother’s college is in Coorg, a picnic spot. I believe Coorg is called ‘Scotland of India’.
But seriously, I didn’t find anything ‘Scotland-ish’ about the place. The roads leading to Virajpet (where my brother’s college actually is) were so bad; one could say there was no road at all. I wonder why the road maintenance of a popular picnic spot is so bad! The sights all along the route were great, though.
But anyway, after depositing my brother’s entire luggage in his hostel room (the room was a MESS to say the least) we set off for Madikeri, which is the headquarters of Coorg.
The sweltering heat over here is making life miserable. In such a situation, Madikeri with its ‘neither hot nor unbearably cold’ weather was a wonderful change. The view of the misty landscape from ‘Raja Seat’, a park in Madikeri was just beautiful.
AND, mmmmmm, the sukha bhel being sold at the entrance was too good. I actually had 3 full plates!!
I generally don’t eat much (except junk like Lays and Cadbury’s once in a while!!) but I really ATE today at lunch. Tandoori rotis, paneer makhani, gobi and paneer manchurians; I think I will have to starve or at least go on a diet for a few days to balance out this huuuuge intake of calories!
But then it was time to say goodbye to my brother, a ritual that I hate. And this time, I felt worse as I know he didn’t have great hols ‘coz his hols and my exams coincided.
Had a great day today (except for the goodbye in the evening) that makes me say:
‘On a day like today; you never wanna see the sun go down!’

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

To break the silence…

The last three weeks have been hectic………….On face value I was just sitting at home and studying. But man!! Wasn’t it HECTIC! The kind of long and boring 5 subjects that CUSAT has given its final year engg students! And somehow, sitting and reading through all that, I just lost touch with blogging!!
I’ll be not be going to engineering college daily anymore. All my classmates know what a nerd I’ve been all these 4 years in college. Yeah, I did try to loosen up a bit in the last sem. But I am given to believe that it was too little too late……..
But that I have a bagful of memories to carry with me all my life cannot be denied. From the most chaotic S1S2 to the relaxed S7 and S8, from Biju Sir to Bijoy Sir, from the sole excursion we went on to the college day celebrations, the list could just go on…….
Anyway, holidays stretch before me now. Not for long though, since by July, I’ll start going to SSTM. That would be a new experience, a new chapter. But till then, I mean to enjoy every moment of being free from studies and blog much more than before!!