STREET LAWYER (John Grisham)

September 21, 2008

STREET LAWYER

(John Grisham)

It is a “good read”.

The narrator in this story is Michael Brock, a lawyer in a big firm called Drake & Sweeney. He works hard to be a parter of the firm along with about 800 of others in this firm. One day he and someothers are held hostage by a homeless fellow who later gets killed by the police in their attempts to save the attorneys. This affects the narrator who then searches for the kidnapper’s details. In the process he meets Mordecai green who specializes & works in street law, i.e. , helping the homeless people legally, free of charge. He is paid by a trust. He takes the narrator to places where shelter, food etc are given to the homeless. The narrator is deeply moved by this and joins Morcedai to help the homeless. He resignes his post and join Morcedai. He learns that his old company has done some ill deeds against the poor. He steals some documents and clues for suing the company to help the poor. The police are notified and he comes in their WANTED list. During this course he has some family problems and also divorses.

It is one of the few books I have read about the poor and that is a part of the society which the higher beings of the same society tends to forget. This is really an eye – opener. Though its not very exciting it is one of the books that SHOULD BE read.


DANNY – A MASTERPIECE

September 13, 2008

DANNY

A classic movie is made by the craft of the director, strength of the script, a fresh narration and to top it all by great performance by the cast. T.V. Chandran has given to the Malayalam movie a classic, one which can be shown off proudly to the world.

T V Chandran has made superb movie throughout his careers. It looks like Mammootty got an excellent chemistry with the director. Their first movie Ponthanmada gave Mammootty a national award. The only actor who has acted more in this director’s movie is Nedumudi Venu.

The movie Danny is an off-beat movie, an award movie, as per the present terminology. The story progresses as a narration by a third-person. There is freshness in the narration and that is because there is humour underlying the movie.. The humour is not the kind which makes us laugh till we break our ribs, but one which creates a smile in us always. The kind which makes us smile whenever we think about it.

The next point is the brilliant performance by Mammootty. Mammootty in the beginning introduces him as Mammootty itself. His slang was amazing throughout. The dialogue presentation is an ability which Mammootty monopolizes in Malayalam movie industry. There is nobody to compete against him. His body language in this movie was also very impressive, especially as an old man.

A negative point in the movie is the rest of the cast. Most of them were quite failures. But the director could cover their failures by his brilliance. But Siddique who acted as Danny’s friend Freddy has done a good job.

I am not going into detail about the story because it’s a must be watched movie and all should please try to see it as soon as possible. There are some movies which creates tears in your eyes. But this one creates smiles in your mind but at the same time creates an ache in your heart. Danny will haunt you forever.


Paddy Farming

September 11, 2008

PADDY

FARMING


Onam is celebrated in the “Chingam” month of the Malayalam calendar. This month is one of happiness because it’s in the month of harvesting. After a lot of hard work, this month brings with it all the happiness. Chingam 1 is the New Year day in Malayalam calendar. That day is also the “karshaka dinam – Farmer’s Day”. It has been so for around 6-8 years. That day, in all offices related to agriculture, special programs will be conducted. This year I got a chance to attend one such a meeting near my house. Some prominent farmers in the neighborhood were honoured. Then there was a discussion about the problems faced by kerala paddy farmers. Let me mention some of them here.

1. The price the farmers get for the products they grow is very low. Farmer doesn’t get a direct market. Their products go through many hands before reaching the consumer. These middle men get most of the profit. The fluctuating price is also a cause of a great concern. There was a time when Vanilla had very high demand and price. Many farmers seeing this opportunity invested heavily in it. By the time they were ready for selling, the prices came back to normal. Such incidents are common in our market. A step the govt. can take in this regard would be to fix a support price for all agricultural products.
2. The labour cost has gone very high. In many other states like Tamil Nadu, this cost is very less. So the cost of cultivation increases drastically here. The main reason for this has to be the high literacy level. Educated people always want white-collar jobs. Even if they don’t get any, they are very reluctant to go for physical labour. And the few that does come demand too much money.
3. Usage of machines can solve the above problem. But suitable machines are not available. And those available are not used properly. Political reasons are a main cause for this. Few months back, in Alapuzha, due to lack of labour the farmers decided to use machines for harvesting. But a political party started a strike there telling introduction of machines are going to increase unemployment. From a party who fought against computerization, we shouldn’t even hope for anything better. And the net results were that the entire crop was wasted in the rain because they were not harvested at time.
4. Most farmers own small area of land which makes mechanization difficult. It is not economically viable to introduce machines for a small area. Group farming can help. If many farmers in the locality unite, then mechanization is possible.
5. Weather is also a big problem. It is getting unpredictable. Earlier there was a pattern for weather. Now it is not so. Unexpected rain and drought cause lots of damage to the crops. There are no solutions for this as weather is uncontrollable. Only step that can be taken is to provide proper insurance for all crops.
6. There is a common notion, that agriculture is profitless. But its not so. Agriculture is profitable. But the magnitude may no be large. There is no chance for huge profits here. A continuous moderate profit can be made by this. So it should be done as a secondary profession by all who can do it. Only this can bring again the green revolution.

You all might be thinking what the use of this article is. For this my answer would be that each and every one of you can be a farmer. There is vast possibility here. Even if you don’t have cultivable area or if you live in a flat, still there are things you can do. Even if it may not be profitable, it can still be a good hobby. Moreover you get good quality products without any pesticides, fertilizers etc. Kitchen garden and farming in the terrace area are growing in popularity. From my experiences I can tell that they have been very useful. Let’s all come together and help our state overcome the overdependence on other states for our food.

Let’s never be in a situation to sent/receive any SMS like the one I got yesterday, which was like this.

“Onam again… Maveli from pathalam.. Rice, vegetables, flowers, liquor all from Tamil Nadu.. And the celebrations in Kerala. Happy Onam….”


Dreams – illogical thinking.

September 10, 2008

“Hello”, I said taking the phone. The reply was another similar “Hello” from the other side, maybe a bit more sweeter voice. The voice belonged to an angel. The angel tells many things. How world began, how it is going on and to where it shall go. I remain silent at my end. My soul is now fresh, like fresh strawberries. The tension, the work load, the fatigue all have gone. I feel like I want to go on hearing this voice till the end of the world.

Her voice suddenly turns stern. She asks me to follow my dreams because God made me for that. She is God’s messenger and came to tell the humans about their dreams. “When you follow your dreams, the whole world conspires to make way for you”. Its like a jig-saw, life will become simple and perfect. When each of us fulfils our dreams, we become legends. Each and every element in the world, from stones to birds, lakes to volcanoes, all tries to tell us what our dream is. Only we have to listen to it, watch it closely and learn from it. She said you can communicate with everything in the world, if you realise your dream and pursue it. The soul in you and the soul in all other things are not different. They are one and the same, which is the Universal Soul.

She then sang of how they live at heaven. Life is simple there. They walk around, seeing the things God made for them, eating what he wants them to eat, hearing and saying what he wants them to do. They are happy. While the human beings never “waste” even a second admiring the beauty of a flower, they spend hours or even a full day in front of it.

That was the end. I heard a click at the other end and I opened my eyes to the morning sun. The splendid sight of the magnificent sun rising among the majestic mountains, made me think about the “phone call” and the voice message I got.

Heaven is nothing but the ideal condition to which you can turn your world to. It is when you forget to enjoy the beauties of today that heaven and earth become different. You tend to ignore every thing you wanted to do, stop pursuing your dreams in order to make a good living for tomorrow. If you continue like that, then there is no tomorrow for you. Throughout your life you will go on thinking the same way. And when its time for your last breath, you look back and think, “Where were those beautiful days for which I had suffered throughout my life?” Never let this happen in your life.

Use at least a few seconds to enjoy the smell of a flower, to watch dew drops on its petal, to see the bees flying around it, to look the crowd assembled at the garden and to ignore the world outside it.

/* Based on a reader’s thoughts after reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma */


INSIGNIA ’08 – HACKERDOM

September 1, 2008

INSIGNIA ’08

HACKERDOM

Computer Science and Engineering Department of Govt. Engineering College, Thrissur brings before you Hackerdom, the third edition of its annual event Insignia, this time in association with the Free and Open Source Community of Kerala.

Its not only a meeting place of hackers. It also aims at bringing in users and turning them hackers. The motto of our program is “Come a User, Return a Hacker”. Free Software has got firm grip in India and especially in Kerala. But it has always been limited to certain range of people. We aim at taking it to one and all by destroying all barriers. When there are wide doors we can open to come out, why take a small window?

Hackerdom comes with a well defined theme – “USERS + DEVELOPERS = COMMUNITY”. In that sense its a community event. It is conducted by the Compsciz of GEC, Thrissur which makes it special.

The curtain raiser for this was held last Friday, 29th August, 2008 at our college’s Seminar Hall at 10:30 AM. The chief guests for the occasion were M.L.A. Therambil Ramakrishnan and IT advisor to the Cheif Minister Mr.Joseph Mathew. The function also included the official release of the theme music (which was done by Jain of S3,CSE), trailor and the mascot Kruger. That was all for the morning session.



The afternoon session was an unconference for discussing plans to take the event forward. Beside the students, Mr.Joseph Mathew, HOD Prof.Manoj Kumar and several prominent Free Software workers from thrissur too took part.

“Computers are like air conditioners. They stop working when you open windows”


PUNISHMENT FOR HARDWORK???

September 1, 2008

Kerala Govt. under the rule of V.S.Achuthananthan is proving to be yet another of the useless governments for Kerala, like the one’s we usually have.(Of course there had been a decision to introduce GNU/Linux at schools instead of Windows which is a great move indeed.) I don’t remember Kerala ever having a Govt of which the people were proud of. The present Govt.’s main fall have been in the educational field. M A Baby, Education Minister, has made too many changes in this field of which none were in the positive direction as far as I can make out.

The very first year M.A.Baby came to power, the results which came out was quite magnificent. The pass percentage was way over the usual. All channels were filled with our honorable educational minister telling how he changed the whole ‘setup’ of education to increase the results. But the secrets couldn’t been hidden for long. Soon it began leaking out. There were clear orders given from the educational dept to increase the marks of each student however bad they have written the exams. I personally know a teacher who went to correct the paper. She said that it was a very difficult scenario. They got to give marks to the students but can’t find a single praiseworthy word in the whole paper. The actual marks of the students would be the one they got minus about 20%. I also remember about one of my neighbour who, on the day before results, was dreading it cause he/she might fail in it. After the results came he/she was very sad cause the marks were only 80%. This happened in the coming years too. I remember seeing a letter written by someone to a newspaper which can be roughly translated as, “I am unlucky to not have been able to study during this golden period of education. I was forced to quit studies after I failed in my 10th 15 years back. Had M.A.Baby been the minister then, I could even have got a Ph.D.”

Then on the year when my entrance exams took place(2007), there were all kinds of problems with the management colleges which delayed our admission. The govt. was against the Management colleges because they were asking for higher fees. The govt remained strong against the management but in the end they succumbed to it. After a press conference, a news reported asked our honorable minister, what was the use of this fight against the management and was there any use of it? The Minister got angry and said, “The management has signed with us to give 50% of their seats at low fees”. He then walked out. Please remember that till then the management had been giving 50% seats at low fees itself. I don’t know whether they had signed it or not. But after all its the no.of seats on govt. fees that matter, not any signatures.

Now comes the most interesting decision. M A Baby has decided to discontinue the Onam exams. While I was in school Onam exams, christmas exams and final exams were the three main exams that were there. These exams made us revise the topics we learned. And after the hard work during the exam time, the vacation was very enjoyable. I must admit I don’t know the reason for stopping Onam exams. But whatever they are, I am sure they are not enough to challenge the positives of it.

And this weekend I saw on paper that M.A.Baby is going to punish all the schools where exams were held prior to Onam. Conducting an exam is not at all easy. It requires hard work from students part and also the teachers part. Setting the paper, finishing portions, conducting exams and correcting the answer paper. If a school is ready to conduct an exam without compulsion, I feel its a thing which should be appreciated, not punished.

I think the only reason for this punishment would be that the honorable Educational Minister has decided to pass all the students this year. So studying or sample exams will be most unnecessary. “Come see the questions of which the answers you don’t know, write something you know and pass all exams” – looks like this is the present educational motto for our government.


ONE NIGHT @ THE RAILWAY STATION

September 1, 2008

ONE NIGHT @

THE

RAILWAY

STATION

GEC experiences are vast, varied and full of enthusiasm. The hard work and toil and tension never spoil the excitement. Such an experience happened on 25th of August 2008. One of my classmate Aswin was coming back from his home in Kozhikode. His train got late. There are no buses in our hostel’s route after about 9 PM. There was no chance of the train reaching Thrissur before 10. He called us and ‘requested’ any one of us to take a bike and go pick him up.

Here at GEC we dream large, plan large and execute them in no time. Soon there was a party of 7 who wanted to go to “receive” Aswin and a Sierra which could only accommodate 5 as per rules. As we were going, we wanted to do the receiving part in full style. A chart paper was bought and a bold message “ASWIN – GEC WELCOMES YOU “was made. A print out of a cartoon of him was taken and pasted on this chart. (This was drawn by a cartoonist called Sajeev whom we met at the Blog Camp).

As it was mandatory for us to be late, we were around 15 minutes late. It was 10:15 PM by the time we started. No sooner than we started the vehicle, Aswin called to tell he was at the station. We didn’t want him out of the station before we reached. We told him there is a way on the other side of the station and asked him to wait there. We were almost sure there was no such way. We just wanted him to spend some more time in the station. But 5 min later he called again to tell he found the way and was on the road on the backside of the railway station.

We reached the station by 10:30 and called him and said we were at the main entrance of the railway station. We stood in front of the entrance with the welcome chart high up majestically. Every passing people never did leave without a glance at us. Soon we were quite a center point of attraction for the crowd. But it didn’t last long. Aswin reached in no time. I must say, the look on Aswin’s face when he saw it was good enough a homage he could have given. He looked dumbstruck! (The photo is a living proof.) I am sure he will never again call us again even if he would have to spend all the time till morning in the Railway station.

For all who thought it was the end of all excitements for that night, it wasn’t so. We were all hungry by the time and wanted to eat something. Where is not question for food after usual business hours. “Double X” is the only place and the best choice. Then our driver Johney recollected something which the Sierra owner had told him. Something related to fuel shortage or something like that. We raced to a petrol pump in the Swaraaj Round, Thrissur. What we saw there was a long queue in front of the pump. I looked around to confirm there were no beverage shops nearby. There were none. I just couldn’t figure out why so large a queue for fuel at this time of the night?

But doubts exceed imagination. And I who belong to Thrissur and knows there are lots of petrol pumps in Thrissur told them to go to the next pump. We did go, but found that it was closed. And the for loop continued. Finally someone said there was a pump near Big Bazaar. As a final option we went there just to find that it was closed. We decided to go back to the first pump where there was long queue. But Man proposes, god disposes. The fuel got over in front of Big Bazaar. Right in the middle of the road lies the Sierra!! Soon we all got out and pushed the vehicle into the parking area of Big bazaar.

The watchman came running thinking we were some dacoits. I spoke with him about our situation. But he replied back in some language which I don’t understand. Gokul who was near me started talking with him. I understood that the language was Hindi. Luckily there was an auto stand in front of us. Two among us went to that first pump in an auto and brought diesel in a bottle from the first pump.

Johney came with the key and tried to open the fuel tank’s knob. It was not opening. This made me realize Murphy’s Law does exist. Each of us tried and never got successful. Suddenly a bus came; we threw ourselves in front of it and stopped it. The driver came out. We asked him to help us open it. He too tried for long.

Johney who then realized that this wasn’t going the right way called the Sierra owner. A female voice came from the other end and told something in a language Johney didn’t understand, guess it was English. Now we were in a fix. The owner of the car, Denny was our senior. We remembered that Bristow another of our senior used to take the Sierra frequently for trips. I called him. He took the phone and said he was in a theater and disconnected it. I called again. This time he came out of the theater and attended the call. I explained the situation yet again.

I don’t know why, but he started laughing. It took a while to stop and when it did, he told us to open without the key. We just tried to pull it out without the key and it got opened. And we all felt like saying a Malayalam word, but restrained ourselves since the bus driver was near us. We poured the petrol. The bus driver sat on the driver’s seat and started the car. He took off on the car and soon was out of reach of our eyes. Now we were in another fix. But Aswin consoled us by saying that if he took the car, we take his bus.

That was an idea. So we came near the bus. And at that moment he came back with the car. So we left he bus and took the car. We went again to the petrol pump and refueled the car. All of us were hungry and wanted to eat something. But we decided against it. We were almost exhausted by the night’s experiences and didn’t want more. All problems had occurred in the first place because we wanted to go to “Double X”. And Double X was not on our way back. So we left towards Pallimoola.

And to all who says God does not exist, here comes the answer. In the way we saw a light, as we neared it we saw a small hotel. I am sure none existed there till then. We ate from there to our heart’s content. And after that we got the bill with a figure of 128 etched on it. We all put all our money and just could make Rs 126. We gave the money to the hotel owner and gave him a big smile. I guess he too is an engineer because he too appeared like knowing the situation we were in. He said Rs 126 was enough.

So as Enid Blyton puts it, All’s well that end’s well.


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