Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tagged : The Book-List

Introducing my second entry into blogosphere which was possible after my write-it-man side finally won over my what-a-pain side in a month long battle since the first post...

Books ! From as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by books. I have had phases in my life when particular types of books have captured my interest corresponding to each phase.

When I was very small, the type was a no-brainer, books filled with lots of pictures and colour. When I was in middle school, I used to love books with photos of volcanoes and mountains and all, it all just felt so grand. In secondary school, I often read encyclopedias and informative books, God knows how, because I have almost completely lost that inquisitive side now. In High School, all the books I saw, whether I liked them or not, were physics, chemistry and maths books that would help me crack the exam that when cracked makes others feel that your life is a walk in the park thereon(the JEE). My novel reading spree actually started in the vacation I got after my first year at IITM. I had read a couple of small thrillers like hardy boys and secret seven in younger days, but those numbers must be like 2 or 3 maximum.

So, when Shruti tagged me with the “15 books that will stay with me” list, I decided to honor all the books that I have thoroughly enjoyed in all phases of my life. Here they are, vaguely in the order of importance they have to me, although I can't really compare two books on totally different topics.

  1. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
    This book started the
    novel reading spree for me and hence, is pretty special for me. I got hooked into reading thriller/action/suspense novels after I read this absolute masterpiece first. I think I first read it because I wanted to see what the hype was all about when it was released.

  2. Calvin and Hobbes – Something Under the Bed is Drooling
    Bill Watterson seriously created one of the best satirical/comical series on the thoughts of a kid growing up when he came up with Calvin and Hobbes. The particular mentioned book is a large collection of several years worth of comic strips by the genius.
  3. The set of Encyclopedias I got in middle school
    These are 8 blue books on a shelf in my home, filled with facts a
    bout almost everything I can think of, in the standard encyclopedia format and there is also an extra book that gives a brief of the lives of countless great people till now.

  4. The World Book series in my school's library
    This was a set of 25 very thick books, each, covering topics starting with a letter or slightly more, from A to Z, housed in my primary school's library. They had golden covering on the side and the paper was the best quality I have ever seen. They defined “cool” for me in my primary school days, hence are here although I don't really own them.

  5. National Geographic issue with lion-lioness fight on cover
    Infinite sentimental value. I read it with my grandpa …
    Plus, it got me interested in nature and wildlife and channels such as discovery and animal planet.

  6. Rising Sun – Michael Crichton
    The book is very well written, and gives a pretty blatant explanation of Japan's high profile but behind-the-scenes involvement in business circles in USA.

  7. The Firm – John Grisham
    Pretty classy style of writing. The grand and dark life of lawyers is explained nicely.

  8. The Bourne Identity -Robert Ludlum
    I read the novel after I watched the movie on it, and that made me enjoy it even more, because the novel has even more detail and a deeper plot than the movie can capture.

  9. Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
    I love all 4 novels of Dan Brown I have read. So naturally, this one figures on the list.

  10. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
    Refer above for justification.

  11. Jack Reacher Series - Lee Child
    Who doesn't love a hero ? Jack Reacher is an ex-military guy who fights bad guys and … u know the drill. Basically a good set of action/suspense novels, I've read quite a few of them.

  12. Absolute Power – David Baldacci
    Strongly written, powerful novel which involves the US president in a scandal ! The book was made into a movie also by the same name, starring clint eastwood and gene hackman.

  13. The Simple Truth – David Baldacci
    A good read. The standard action/romance/thriller genre.

  14. The Chamber – John Grisham
    The treatment of the death penalty is too realistic. In fact, it is very moving in the way it deals with edgy issues like death penalty and racism.

  15. The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
    I got this novel for only two reasons, one, because it won a Booker and two, because it was written by an Indian. I have read several better novels than this one but this is on my list because the depiction of India and the analogies of light and darkness are fantastic and sadly, true.

So there it is, my list of 15 most cherished books. I might have not recollected a gem I might have read sometime, and for that I ask that/those book(s) for forgiveness. Speaking of the tagging thing, it took me some time to remember all the books I had read, and got me thinking that although I do read sometime, it is nowhere near enough because had I been asked “30” books instead of “15”, I could not have completed the list.

Now from what I understood of this tag, we are supposed to pass the baton, that is, tag friends who haven't been tagged yet. So, assuming that the following people are first-time targets, I tag Arjun and Kaygee.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Wing

Finally my first entry in cyberspace real estate is here !

While cracking my head for several days over the issue of starting a blog, I realized that my first entry had to be on something that compelled me to start blogging in the first place. And that was the circle of friends here at IITM, especially the wing mates in the hostel. So here is my dedication to the glorious discussion sessions that have taken place in my half wing full of '05 batch dual degree students. The title is only to create an effect of awe, I'm not really about to tell you a blood-chilling mystery. The post may seem BIG, but it's my first post so i guess i got carried away with my excitement....

Every student who has ever lived in a hostel for a reasonably long period of time … say, more than a year, will probably agree when I assert that it is an ensemble of very different characters, each with qualities that will, when placed alone seem normal, but when in this ensemble, add a pseudo-unique component to interaction in the hostel. I have been a resident of Narmada hostel at IIT Madras for over four years and the wing(more specifically, the half wing) of students I have come to be a part of sports some very unique specimen of the species Homo sapiens as concerns the qualities and roles these guys take up when wing discussions are held.

One of the most cherished time-passes of all time for us, engineers in the making, has been the wing discussion sessions, to be respectful to the insti lingo, the fart sessions. These intellectually draining sessions are over topics of paramount importance such as “The mess food seems to suck more than usual these days…” and “No, you are wrong and he is right about this funda” and “that movie was a pile of junk” and so on. They are generally held outside somebody’s room, while standing in a sort of circular/oval group, or sometimes, in somebody’s room where the occupants barely fit on the bed, the chair and the floor(the remainders have to stand). As unnatural as it seems, every member of our half-wing has a sort of role in these discussions, which comes out naturally during the proceedings. I shall attempt to, forgive this little lamb my wing-mates, elaborate over these roles and how they so aptly add to the discussion more juice than the topic itself could add.

The author of this blog wishes to make it clear that the following comments are very subjective i.e. how the author has perceived situations and made conclusions. They may be exaggarations to enable the author to gain TRPs for his first blog entry. If any one wishes to challenge the author’s findings, he/she can contact the author, and if found convincing enough, shall be treated to a full cup of coffee/tea between 4 to 5 pm in the mess hall, Himalaya.

The group can be broadly divided into the following sub-groups:

The “We did start the Fire” Crew - Sri-Go and Ork

These characters are critical when starting a discussion for they are the ones that spark it by pulling the leg of one of the other groups to follow, and then quietly disappear in to the background, letting the fire burn until the oxygen seems to be running out, and then again, they are back. Their comments are very sharp and witty and the target to these comments is always spiced-up so much by them that the discussion will then continue on its own for a long long time. You are the pioneers of many successful discussions. Hail Ork and Sri-Go !

The Intellectual - SDK

I dare you to start an argument with this guy and then attempt to win it. His logic for his point of view on any(I mean, any) topic on this Earth is so strong that he is absolutely unbeatable when it comes to debates that often start from the wing discussions. If you ever want to be on the winning side of an argument, just support him with words like “Ya, exactly…” or “Obviously be…” and victory is yours. Of late, the wing has found certain topics or ways that can keep our man from speaking and they are used as secret weapons only in the worst case scenario of an about-to-occur total domination by him. Your presence is essential to maintain a strong logic to the discussion. Hail SDK !

The Wikipedia - Rampy

Do you know when and why the Xth war in the country of Y was fought and with how many men on both sides ? Our man knows. Why ? Because he is the absolute Wikipedia of facts and figures you would not normally remember or try to remember for any apparent reason. He is an integral part of every discussion since he supplies several facts that lead to several doubts in others’ minds, that lead to several long long debates on who’s right. He is the guy to contact whenever you want any info on the latest tennis win or the latest grand prix win or the latest ……the list goes on. But seriously, his memory retention of general knowledge or any other information is mind-blowing. Your declarations and news flashes are so essential to the wing . Hail Rampy !

The Entertainers - Galli and KG

These dudes are probably the reason why so many wing discussions are held in the first place. They have the rare gift of being the scape-goat at some point in a discussion with everyone trying to pull their leg and then suddenly, one of them weaves some magic and the hunted is now the hunter. Needless to say, the reverse also happens and the wanting-to-be hunter becomes the hunted. KG has the simple smile to make your enemies lose funda that is like one of the few classics of the wing that will be remembered for a long time and the guy has taken a lot of heat for it from the mentioned Fire Starters. Galli is well known for his side changing tactics and for his active involvement in almost every discussion topic. These guys make up the real fun part of the discussion, due to their sheer energy and remarks. Hail KG and Galli !

The DJ guy - Dopa

This guy has a gift. A very rare gift. He has gained the respect(is it, guys?) of all the wing-mates due to the totally awesome PJs he can put once in a while and which are so powerful that they have been exalted to the status of what are known as DJs(Dopa Jokes). He is also known for his active participation in the discussions adding to the seriousness sometimes, and sometimes to the humor and fun. Hail Dopa !

The Audience - Raj, Me, Aditya

Every speaker needs an audience. When someone is contributing to the wing discussion, he does need some ears to listen to him, clap from time to time and so on. Do not underestimate the members of this group, though. Raj will give one statement that is equivalent to 10 statements of mere mortals. Aditya’s tech comments are paralleled by none and his sarcasm is off the charts. And well, I am me ….my presence itself is ahem ahem … you get the point.

Hail Raj, Adi and Me !

All in all, every wing discussion is a true delight since every one plays out their parts brilliantly. There are exceptions though, role reversals often take place but what is written above is the mean over several discussions profiled by the author. Now that Arjun Singh is a part of the half wing, the author is confident that he will soon engage in one such role that will add more fun to the wing fart sessions.