I am looking for singers (male & female), preferably with Tamil knowledge, lyricists, drummers, keyboard players, flutists, guitarists for my album. If you are interested, please leave a comment or contact me via my profile page

Monday, May 30, 2005

[Song Watch] Roja

Roja by Mani Ratnam, starring Arvind Swamy & Madhubala.

Many people, including yours truly, were awestruck when we first saw the song on Independence Day, 1992. DD telecast this song, which had a sound that was *totally* never heard before and had 'ad'ish tinge to it. I still remember where i was when i first heard that song, and all the images are etched like 'pasumarathaani', heard the song couple of more times that day and was like 'IR rocks' :-D. Yes, at that time IR did.

Little did i know that the music director (ARR) would take the cherished spot in millions of hearts with his lilting and soulful music.

ARR's Roja has been included in TIME Magazine's Best SoundTracks of All Time (Thanks Ganesh for breaking the news :-)

I decided, i'd give the other planned reviews a short-circuit and write about Roja instead.

Chinna Chinna Aasai - Minmini

Opens with a cool flute/guitar combo that sets the 'youth' in you jumping to the cute rhythm. This opening reminds you of jingles in those days. (by ARR ofcourse). Minmini opens the song (used to sound like younger day Janaki) nicely picturised, awesome lyrics.

The chimes of the bell are cute.

Interlude has a nice violin like instrument belting out folk notes. Listen to 1.55-1.58 -it simply has a 60's musical touch to the flute.

The stanza is simple, with flute & chords doing a stellar job of conveying the joy of the young girl. Before you know, the stanza is over and you end up at chinna chinna

Second interlude has 'dandiya' to setup the rhythm and our man ARR adorning filling in with a nice alaap...what a dreamy simplicity to it !

The second stanza is no different from the first. The beauty of the song is its recording. I don't know what it is called 'technically'. But, you hear the 'overlap' of minmini's voice i.e like an echo effect. This produces a 'dreamy' texture to the voice. Since ARR started using this mechanism, it has since been commonly followed.

Overall nice and cute song, but broke traditions & set the stage for announcing the new genius.

For the raga lovers, nothing fanciful found...notes of Harikambhoji :-)

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Kadhal Rojave - S.P.B

A melancholic hum of melody in raga 'Desh' starts the song. The 'bass' guitar sets the 'serious'ness of the mood. The sounds of the instruments were (are) all new. The 'kaapi'/'desh' combo of the tune is excellently intonated by SPB the master. The tabla thrown in is clearly reminiscent of the 'Loy Mendosa' days.

Naveen on flute is so loveable in the interlude. With the hum and flute combo improvising on the initial intro, the stage for the first stanza is set. The soulful rendition by SPB is out of the world and the chords (power chords one should say) ooze melody & do a wonderful job of conveying the sadness.

Second interlude is the same as the intro music. This was actually a style that ARR used till 97-98 i.e. the intro piece being developed upon as the second interlude. He still does that occasionally.

Beautiful, top-class melody spoke of ARR's abilities.

On a related note, there was a imitation of this song, ('Tere liye janam', Ajay Devgan) which imitates every aspect of the song, including ragas, instruments, picturization etc.

Rating 5 out of 5

Pudhu Vellai Mazhai - Unni Menon, Sujatha

A battalion of talent, that had been ignored erstwhile, was resurrected at the advent of ARR. The classic example was that of Sujatha. She had debuted long time back but never clicked and always shadowed/left behind by Chitra.

These had a neo-age feeling to it. It reminded one of the opening music of the tv version of writer Sujatha's 'Geno' (Nee Nila Naan Sibi anyone ?). The use of instruments conveys perfectly the ambience and location of the song and would be picturized superbly well.

Sujatha opens the song with pudhu vellai mazhai Unni joins in for the duet. nadhiye nee takes the song to a different plane before bringing it back to the opening of the song.

The interlude continues its work on the lovely sounds. Lyrics have to be noted here.

male : penn illadha oorile adi aan poo kaetpadhillai
female : penn illadha oorile kodi dhaan poo poopadhillai

male : men don't buy flowers in a place that has no women
female : in a place that has no women, flowers don't bloom

As remarked since, Vairamuthu and ARR have worked towards bringing some 'sanity' in the quality & lyrics they use. I would'nt label them as 'leaders of the lyrics revolution' but they are at the fore-front.

The stanzas are simply superb. All you have to do is close your eyes and you will feel like in you are in some sci-fi mission with a therapeutic audio massage ;)

Everytime it snows in this area, this song comes to ones mind :-)

The song has kAnada flavor to it. Excellently done.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Thamizha Thamizha - Hariharan

The voice till then heard on Bajaj ads all over India, had now a public face to it :-) Hari it was.

Everytime i listen to this song, i get goose bumps. The way the song fires you up is unbelievable. It is only ARR, that can move from a pallavi that sounds like a lullaby to a patriotic cry and rousing one's senses. Lyrics by vairamthu have to be noted yet again.

Chords are out-of-the-world . The violin piece at 2.02-2.05 is so cute as if to to singing to a child. That section alone clinches the song for me ;)

It can be counted to be one of the best emotion-evoking songs of ARR (also Ruk Jah from Bombay)

Rating 4.6 out of 5

Rukkumani - SPB & Chitra

This song is ample show case of ARR's rhythm skills. The amazing change of pace from the roll of drums to simple claps and then back to the neck-breaking pace is excellent.

The tune of the song itself is very simple and the stanzas don't live upto the promise of the pallavi. The song's public relation is carried out entirely by the foot-tapping the nature of the song and thankfully SPB & Chitra do a good job of the song.

The tabla piece in the second interlude was a pre-cursor to, what we have now come to know of as ARR's standard experiments with rhythm. (like Chikku bukku, Thillanna etc)

Interestingly enough, this song became the chart-buster when Roja was released in Hindi. Well, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder apparently.

Rating 3.9 out of 5

Chinna Chinna Aasai (Short version) - Minmini

The only thing different from the longer version of the song is intro 'nadhaswaram' piece which is superbly done in kalyani to merge with the mainstream song.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

The album paved way for region-neutral music i.e. the same tune appeals to 'masses' from all over the country as opposed to specific treatment in the past. It brought new direction the Indian music scene. All music directors changed their style, reluctantly though, to not be left-behind by the new phenomenon.

Looking at where we are right now, almost 13 years from the day ARR surfaced on the celluloid map, he has rightfully annexed the title of 'The Emperor' of the Indian film music for the past decade. Only time will tell how/whether ARR can keep reinventing himself to live up to the challenges of the ever changing cine world.

One only hopes that he gets to spend more time in the Tamil cine industry and bring us more haunting melodies for many more years to come.

Who would not want to have Roja in their collection ?
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5

Sunday, May 29, 2005

[Book Watch] Summa Theologica

Summa Theologica by Saint Thomas Aquinas.

'Summa' means a comprehensive treatise on philosophy or theology (Find the word, its pronunciation at Dictionary.com)

He belonged to the thirteenth century and was expected to take up being an abbot according to family traditions. However, he took liking to the movement of 'Dominicans' which emphasized on removing 'heresy' through preaching. The family would not hear of such a thing and had him 'kidnapped' and tried to lure him away from this idea. However he persisted and finally the family relented.

This was his greatest work one among the great works on theology in history. The entire book is structured in the form of 'questions' which are the major components of the books. Each 'question' is subdivided into 'Articles'. Every 'article' is countered with 'objections' (arguments against the article - sometime not very convincing) as to why article can't be true and finally 'answered' and also 'reply-objections' to counter the objections.

Starting off by asking a question whether 'theology is science' the doctrine examines various topics including 'existence of God' and 'Will' 'Death' 'Good' 'Bad' etc. Some of the topics may be superfluous for 'non-academic' readers of theology.

Out of the many topics that interested me, two of them stood out. One, ofcourse was, 'existence of truth' (as part of existence of God).

For truth to not exist, the statement "truth does not exist" must be 'true'. So for truth to not exist, 'true' must exist, and hence truth exists

Second was about 'fate' or 'chance/luck'.

For instance, if two servants are sent by their master to the same place; the meeting of the two servants in regard to themselves is by chance; but as compared to the master, who had ordered it, it is directly intended.

The entire book is based on 'logical' attempts at solving problems-that do not have 'mathematical' existence. Whether or not one agrees to the conclusions arrived at by the use of logic, one must read it to understand the marvelous use of reasoning.

This is a must-read for people who love 'philosophy' but just to add a note of caution, the subject treatment is 'serious' stuff and the book is a long one by itself. Some of the 'questions' are quite passable, but unfortunately, some of the answers are based on 'articles' that have been already answered at which point in time you may have to switch to that 'article'.

Happy Reading.

And, if I may, one recommendation - 'Do consider the point of reading all the philosophy and how even a small (even 1%) percent of it can be incorporated into our lives, reducing the tension and countless worries we create for ourselves in day-to-day living'

It is pertinent to narrate the following incident. A mother used to always keep telling her child to make sure he does not spill the coffee on the carpet, literally everytime the child took the coffee to the living room. And one-day the child, in a calm voice remarked, 'Mom, I know that, you know that am not so stupid, to pour coffee onto the carpet. If the coffee still gets spilt, it is then called "accident". There are so many ways it can be remedied. We could clean the carpet ourselves. We could have some professional do it or as a last attempt, replace the entire carpet. The solution is so simple that it does not warrant you 'worrying' countless times everytime you give someone a cup of coffee. Just relax and let this not cause mental tension

One of my relatives narrated the above event. Without getting into the 'realities' of the story, if you can take away the essence that almost everything in life can be translated into $$$ terms, but never let your life to be expressed in $$$ terms :-)

Enough of the 'Ohh am so serious' topic..Let me get back onto some more music reviews ;)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

No Haggle Offer

(Hint: This post should be read while imagining a laughing machine in use at the end of all conversations)

KL decided he'd get a new car that day, come no matter what. Eswar & I had to accompany him over to the dealer. When we hopped on to the metro, SN (KL's project mate) also was on the same train.

All of us wanted to interview KL about his choice of the car, why 'new', why 'used' etc and Eswar began to bell the 'cat'

Eswar : KL, how long have you been thinking of buying a car
Me : 3 years, 30,000 miles..but finally he decided to buy a car today.
KL : Yeah, kind of

Eswar : What car are you gonna buy ?
KL : Thinking of Corolla.
Eswar : Corolla, what is the freaking point. You might as well by a Camry. The resale value is anyway gonna be 3K lower the moment you take it off the dealership.
KL : Yeah, that is why I want to take Corolla
Eswar : Dude, Camry is the best selling car and you have more chances of selling it. Corolla does not have the 'horse power' to run it up a hill, take for example my car, it struggles to get up a hill. The pickup is bad dude.

By this time, we were all successful in instilling enough doubt in KL's mind about what car to buy.

Me : Eswar, that is no big deal. He will put the car in reverse and climb the hill. The pickup does not vary that much between cars, to go up a hill in the reverse gear ;)

Eswar : No seriously, KL, you should get a camry, it has better pickup that corolla
SN : I agree, Camry is better than corolla and has decent pickup, but it does not 'race'
KL : Yeah, am looking at driving a car and not racing a car and you know the resale value is important

Me : Then you should buy something like 'kia spectra', you pay only 5k to take the car off the showroom and you lose 4k immediately and you can drive the car with peace of mind
Eswar : And you can donate the car, claim tax deduction, which will be more than 4k and you actually endup making a profit.
Me : Buy & Donate couple of times and you would have saved enough to buy a Merc :-)
KL : Boss, all of you are confusing the heck out of me

Me : You are like vishwamitra meditating and we are like the 'distractors' and Eswar is the Menaka to completely change your mind...

with those words, we started drove towards the dealership and started taking a look at the car.

Eswar : KL, if you take some weird colored cars like bright yellow, the price will be lesser than the mainstream colors
Me : and yeah, your insurance rate will be jacked up to overshoot the savings :-D

We were examining the cars and came to Echo, which had very or little trunk space

Eswar : I think you should take the Echo, it will help you control your finances.
Me : Yes, even if you buy a trunk load of groceries, it is not much. and at the going price of gases, you will think twice about making another shopping trip, essentially keep in check the amount you spend ;)

We finally decided to meet with a salesperson (SP) and what a meeting it was. SP was apparently from West Indies. He recognised desis and started talking about cricket, cricketers, his ancestral parentage from India and Eswar was giving him good company by striking erudite conversations on the game. It could be sensed clearly KL was getting restless about this conversation and suddenly he was like

KL : Thats all fine, what is the price of the car ?.
KL looked like he was an emperor amidst a serious war facing his arch enemy. His dealings were all like 'I don't care'. He meant business

SP : Let us go and take a look at the car.

We went out to look at a blue corolla LE, which was KL's ideal buy. The sticker price was 17,645 + tax,tags & title. The moment SP started to explain the features

KL : We know about the car. We have the cash ready on us now. We will pay for it and take the car out right now, can you let us know your price ?
SP : Honestly (yeah, i bel that) am here to actually fight for you. (ethana paeru raaja intha maathiri kilambirukkeenga). Knowing 'our' culture i will not tell lies (asku busku, indha alwa ellam vera yaar kittayavadhu vechukunga). Why don't you give me a price that I can go work with the manager to seal the deal.

After thinking a bit,
KL : OK, I am gonna give you a price. But it is 'no-haggle' no-hassle offer. It is 13,800 + tax,tags..i have the cash and will take the car away immediately. This is a final offer, Take it or leave it, no negotiation. Thats it.

SP did not open his mouth. But everyone heard him say 'Excuse me, that is my dialog to say, who is the salesperson here...take it or leave it offer from a buyer ?'.

He was too stunned for words.

SP : Let me find a car for that price and walked to the next car and read aloud the sticker price. 13,400 - yeah you can take this.

And it was a ECHO :-)))))))) He levelled the playing field with KL

KL : Are you telling us we don't know the difference between Echo & Corolla ?

KL was still a man at war. And then we decided to have the SP deal with his manager for the price KL had 'finally offered' and obviously the price SP got back to us not even remotely close to KL's range.

Then we played our 'internet pricing' offer which was amazingly close to or even less than invoice price.

I'd like to recommend to all the readers that if you find some internet, no-haggle price, of course not the offer like KL's ;) but one from the dealer and it is considerably close to the invoice price, that is the best way to buy a car. You walk in and walk out with a new car in less than 2 hours no bargaining, you get the best price and a new car.

The post car-buying experience was also funny, like how KL got an insurance quote so low that everyone was joking around that the coverage may be for just wheels alone etc.

All along KL was worried about some safety issues with Corolla, where some one over the web had posted a message saying, when the car goes above 65mph, you get air draught under the car and the wheels don't feel like on the road, making the car wobble from side to side.

KL aired his concern publicly.

Me : Yeah, just make sure you got your pilot's license handy and beware of the no-fly zone restriction in DC area. For all we know you may drive the car about 65mph and the car starts flying into DC and F-16's will be scrambled to 'land' your corolla safely.

Finally Siva, asked KL about the tags.

Siva : KL, did you get a 'personalised' tag ?
Me : He is taking a 'person-i-liked' named tag. (This would remain cryptic to people who can't decrypt it)

Everyone in laughters, but we all felt that KL internally was thinking of how great this idea was.

Only time will tell what tags KL ends up displaying...he atleast does not have to get it right away ;)

Disclaimer : Don't try this at home. Have made all attempt to depict the events and conversations as happened. Narrator can't be held responsible for any 'missed' out oppurtunities. All the cars specified above are registered trademarks, copyrighted by the respective companies. Including the no-haggle offer by KL Inc.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Diwali Stamps in US

Diwali is an important Indian festival, and the Post Office Department is thinking about issuing stamps for this occasion. And why not, USPS has stamps for other festivals too like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid,and Chinese New Year.

To do this, USPS needs 500,000 signatures to have a stamp release, and so far they have 191537 people who have signed the petition.

Please go to the site below and support the release of the Diwali stamp. Also, please forward widely to others who would support this (do not have to be Indian to sign the petition or has to be in the US! )

Click Here or go to this URL http://www.PetitionOnline.com/diwali03/

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

That was horrible..

Americon Idol is one of the surest bets to hog TV ratings and gain instant popularity with the audience. It has repeatedly performed the trick for Fox Network, not withstanding the sensation mongering 'O'Reilly Show'

The idea of people 'voting' to elect their idol and the tremendous participation of viewers is what makes the show click.

Flashhhhhhhhhh to a different scene.....

'Attraction' by 'repulsion' is a phenomenon that all Indian movie goers are familiar with. The hero and herione would be fighting to the extent of killing each other and suddenly they become the closest since humans & money.

Flashhhhhhhhhh to the current scene.....

The same factor has been put to good use with 'Simon' from American Idol. 'He is caustic' is an understatement. Most people feel his comments are so rude & unfair. People just 'love' to 'hate' him.

Well, i beg to disagreee. 95% of the cases, his 'judgement' is spot on...may be his comments are not appropriate, may be he needs to be more polished, may be he does not need to drive a truck over people's ego...but when he says someone is not good enough to 'sing', he is right.

Randy is ok...not always consistent, Paula is the 'sizzle' factor, she is the 'moderate' person amongst the judges, shedding tears bringing a 'aahhhhhhhh' or 'ugggggggggh' from the audience.

Today was the finals of American Idol. I would not say i was impressed with what was put up as the 'finalists'...the previous idols finalists were better, but hey these are american people's idols...they are the people's pulse :-)

Talking of which, am reminded of some ARR interview(Not sure about the source) where he was asked, 'what do you remember about your school days'. He replied that at that time, he hardly found time to study, he used to play for bands & troupes and then rented out instruments, playing around with them and learning them etc and rarely would have time to devote attention towards curricular activities. One time, his teacher scolded him saying 'intha maathiri ellam harmonium vasikarennu, ooru suthitu thirinja, naalaikku station le pichakaran mathiri paada vaendi varam'.

Translation: (Without spending time towards studies) If you roam around playing harmonium etc, you would end up playing it like a beggar at the railway station

and apparently having said that, ARR smiled :-)

It may have hurt ARR a simple musician then, a genius now. I would not blame the teacher very much...(s)he was trying to emphasise the need for education more than extra-curricular activities. Yes, he could have been not that mean and rude, but he was doing his job.

The teacher, when watching the interview, would have had massive attack of guilt or remorse, would'nt blame them either. How would he feel ?....That was horrible. Nonetheless an interesting incident !

So would be, when, after you, singing your heart out hear Simon say, 'That was the dullest/boring performance i've ever heard'

That is indeed horrible !

Eggs...ummmmm tasty !

The world leader in the personal desktop operating system, microsoft, announced a competition called 'Gatekeeper Test - are you the ultimate security expert' aimed at developing the security skills of IT professionals in 19 countries around Europe & Middle East & Africa.

The idea was people could answer security related questions and the winner gets a free trip to Security Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Apparently, the people who participated, took the challenge very seriously. Instead of answering the quiz, they broke the system. They did not have to work hard to do that...they manipulated the system by 'using' back buttons, they found out that the right answers were not 'accepted', they broke the daily limit of two questions...(yes you can't know more than two security concepts in a day) to bring the contest to a grinding halt.

Organisers had to 'suspend' the event and bought towels in bulk to wipe eggs of their faces.

Why do Eggs seem more tastier when it is on someone's face than your mouth ?

Information Courtesy : Infoworld

All copyrights, trademarks, registered trademarks are the owners of the respective organizations

Monday, May 23, 2005

[Song Watch] Innum Ennai

Singara Velan - starred Kamal Hassan and already plumpy Khusboo :-(. Directed by RV Udayakumar. The movie was a run-of-the-mill with all commercial elements and nice songs. 'Innum Ennai' & 'Thoodhu selvadharadi' were very nicely done. 'Pudhucerhi Katcheri', was what stole the honors however.

Innum Ennai is the best song in the movie and lets get to the review of the song right away.

The song is set in Gambeera Naattai, the swaras are simply 'sa ga3 m1 pa ni3 Sa'. No complications there. But how can one produce a lovely melody out of such simple notes. IR shows us how....

The song opens with bells & violins at a very fast pace going over the raga's structure, before trumpets & drums join in and announce a grand opening to the song. The electric piano/synth flute sets up the pallavi for the song with a fast & hip rhythm section and our inimicable SPB opens with 'Innum Ennai'

The pallavi is wonderful especially the section 'kaigal thaanai korthai, katti mutham thenai varthai'. One wonders where such melody was kept hidden behind the raga till IR discovered it.

The interlude is nicely done...that is first place, i guess you note an anniya swara in the song so far....with the typical IR combo of flute/violin.

The stanza once again is kicked off by SPB...the flute follows the line so closely that it feels as if a logical extension of sorts. If you are humming the song..rarely would you not hum the flute piece as well. Janaki joins in quite late in the song and it is a walk in the park for her for this stanza.

Disclaimer: Bit detailed the following para is.
In the following lines am gonna attempt to explain, what i've observed as notes...it may have technical term to it, if there is please let me know. If you listen to 'pudhu pudhu vidukadhai (2.24)' , the way the tune is structured is pudhu pudhu & vidukathai are theoretically similar, but slightly shifting the start note of vidukathai by 1 full step brings in a majestic touch to that song. I've seen many MDs do it...but never knew whether it is a 'construct' in light music. Help appreciated.

As his wont, IR toys around with drums to produce a nice climax to the stanza and anupallavi with Janaki bringing it off easily.

The second interlude is the best part of the entire song. Starting at 3.00, a nicely 'gamakam'ed veena (positively synthetic) for 4 seconds is out of the world. The trumpets join in with the piece repeating and the violin arrangement is as expected.

The second stanza, is set off by Janaki. As with the first stanza at 2.02 and here at 3.37, 'nool idayiyai yenga vidum', the section between 'idayiyai' & 'yenga' there seems to be a drop of note by half-note that brings in wonderful but subtle variation to the song.

The song finishes off with SPB & Janaki letting loose their creative improvisation...but as we have heard thousand times before..it is actually 'programmed' by IR.

In my list of bests, this song is amongst IR's Top-3 if not the best. It has a simple structure, easy melody, nice fast pace & lovely orchestration. I would listen to this IR gem anytime !

Rating 4.9 out of 5

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Chappell, the new Indian Cricket Coach

Being an Indian, cricket lover and blogger - it would be highly unfair, if i did not devote atleast one blog towards the latest developments in cricket.

After much hype & hoopla over the possible candidates for the Indian cricket coach, BCCI has finally settled for the old race horse Greg Chappell former Aussie Captain.

As always the controversy sorrounding whether we need foreign coaches etc continue to be raked up and supported by the media.

We are all living in a world where competition is the keyword. The salary is rumored to be in the range of 200K dollars per year. Now, at this pay-rate, controversies are understandable. One question that i still have is, assuming Gavaskar or some other Indian was selected...would he be paid at a similar scale ?. He need not be...you pay for the services you get. Then would you make use of the services he provide ? BCCI - uh-uhh...NO. He does not get to select the team. He does not get to select the players. He does not get to select the 'strategy'. He does not get to participate in the 'vision' of the game. So why do we need him ? Wake up BCCI !!!

What India cricket needs is *professionalism*. We have talented players. We are paper tigers. We have the money. BCCI is unimaginably rich. So why can't we consistently succeed ?

There is lack of professionalism. This i think should be the primary goal of the new coach. One thing that scares me is what *all* are talking about. All the players are international players, they don't need to be taught how to bowl or bat.

I beg to disagree. Our bowlers DO NOT bowl yorkers. They only think of yorkers as a virtual entity. Our batsmen DO NOT play consistently. Our fielding, with exception of couple of folks is abysmal. What, i may ask, is the reply from our 'international players' ?

Unless we shed the attitude of 'I have done enough to sit on it and continue in the team' or 'Why is it, that I should be the person who always scores runs' no international coach is gonna help.

John Wright, to his credit brought in the idea of 'fitness' - which seems to have worked wonders for the team.

Can Chappell bring in professionalism first ? and then 'execution of strategies' so that India can graduate from the current situation of 'paper tigers really rats' to 'consistent cup holders' ? (not our desi cup ;) )


I have travelled through that road 3-4 times before. Everytime, looking at the peaceful, majestic, posh, pleasing, awe-inspiring palaces. They are valued at millions and above the number of fingers that all of us have !

Would always be thinking, who exactly owns these p(a)laces. Senators, CEOs, Business men ? It always remained a mystery !

This is the 'potomac'/'river rd' area in DC.

I had KR, hubby of my cousin come over for the weekend. He had a friend, that we were gonna say 'hi' to. Hopped onto my car and drove down, and when we took the exit i was suprised to see where we were on. River Rd. I said interesting....KR set the expectations straight by the giving the background of the family and the home we can expect to see. The number of acres of the order of 'elements of the world'.

As always the drive was exhilirating. Then we finally stopped in front of a 'palace'. There was a 'Mercury Mountaineer' in front of the place. The apartment had a cul-de-sac of its own, bigger than any cul-de-sac of the public places have seen before. The apartment had 8 full bedrooms including full baths and other rooms that we were too demoralised to count. Three levels, each housing its own full-service kitchen and all of them super-sized. To rub it in, we were driven around the 'locality' and show some of the 15-20 million homes...and i don't know how long my jaw rested in the same 'dropped' position. All along, I kept telling myself...'Arvind, you are doing ok, this is not a dream ! ' until we reached a place where we were all left searching for words. Words we have been using since our birth. Multitudes of decades worth of learning all to no avail.

The place was built on 15-20 acres of land with royal lion statues in front of the gates and angel guarding the home and 'wide' gates in front all with state of art gadgets in place. The place was unpriced. It is better not to !

I was told the place that we went to, the single 'window' in their hall was worth well above 65K dollars !

Now i was really afraid that someone had to wake up before i go crazy and write this on my blog. Every though that flashed my mind was punctuated with expectations of the same....but it never happened. As KR pointed out, when we stood in front of the place, looking like bees in front of aeroplane, so disproportionate a scale, that we could hear the breeze flowing, not wind, breeze !. We could hear the single leaf shifting its position. Pin drop silence !

Man ! was that a mystical experience that i will ever forget ! Humbling, intimidating, thrilling and enlightening !

My rest of the day was spent ranting and raving to near & dear ones about the experience and how, it changed my perspective in life ! and now ye'all get to put up with the same !

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

[Song Watch] Anniyan

Shankar's new movie Anniyan is the buzz maker in kollywood. Multi-crore project, rumored to have been insured for astronomical sums is expected to be released late may'05.

Shankar for various reasons, had replaced his 'aasthana' music director ARR with Harris Jayaraj. That being an onerous responsibility, let us see how HJ has responded to it.

Iyengaru Veetu Azhage - Hariharan, Harini

The song starts with Pancharatna Keerthanai, 'Jagadhanandha' set in Naattai (*Correction* it was earlier noted as Gambeera Naatai) ragam, at cinematic tempo rather than the classical tempo. The trend of fusion'ising classical songs, (of late) was set off by ARR with Vanajakshi (Andhi Mandarai) & Alai Payuthe (Alai Payuthe), which was promptly followed by Vidyasagar's Endaro Mahanu (Devadoothan). All of them were quite compelling, notwithstanding the purist's critiques.

The pallavi takes off from where the classical singing says bye. Hari simply steals the show, his Ghazlish touch definitely lends credence to the raga. The stanzas are quite run-of-the-mill stuff. It has foot-tapping rhythmic mood, but does not quite sustain the melody from the pallavi.

IR, ARR have all belted our chart busters in this raga. This song does not come close to them.

Deva had done one in 'Maane Maane' from Senthoorapandi & his son Srikanth Deva's 'Chennai Senthamizh' from M Kumaran.....were prety neat.

I am afraid that HJ would not like to see him clubbed with the likes of Deva&co, but unfortunately, that is what it is.

Rating 4.1 out of 5

Oh Sukumari - Shankar Mahadevan, Harini

Shankar Mahadevan must have jumped up in glee when he heard the track played to him. It suits his style of rendition and he comes out on top. The song has Arabhi touch to it. It is quite a cool song, the melody is retained throughout the song. One wonders why Shankar has to use those accents (may be the movie situation ?)
Sax joins in for the second half of the song. The structure of the song is very similar to 'Kaadhal vanducho' from Hey Nee....This is the best song of the album.

Rating 4.1 out of 5

Andangakka - Jassie Gift, KK, Shreya Gosal

Language neutral musical babbling starts this song off..and once again, you think you have heard this song before. It has 'kapi'ish notes. Shreya Gosal asserts herself comfortably. The interlude is quite nice, Stanzas are constructed with foot-tapping rhythm. The lyrics are outright horrible.The use of instruments & the tune itself reminds you of 'Kuchi Kuchi' from Bombay. But for the lyrics, this song would be best song of the album.

Rating 3.9 out of 5

Kaadhal Yaanai - Nakul, Nelwyn, GV Prakash

This is a typical HJ number, nice chords, cool voice selection and lyrics dont need to mean anything. HJ cant keep away from using his favorite sequences like at 4.00 etc. From the even'ness of the song, rhythm and catchiness, this song seems to be right there on the top within the movie. Definitely a fancy disco number that teenagers are gonna ga-ga aover.

Rating 3.9 out of 5

Kannum Kannum Nokia - Leslie Lewis, Vasundhara, Andrea

Techno pop song...seems to be the counterpart of Shakalaka baby. 'Cappucino Coffeeaa'...man am no tamil pundit, nor do i worry that much about lyrics...but it atleast has to sound pleasant...should never have to go back to the golden lyric days like 'pannadha ravusu, palapalakudhu blowsu' kind of lyrics ;p
Eminently passable...would wonder if it would ever be played again by any listener.

Rating 3.2 out of 5.

The entire album has a 'heard it somewhere before' feel to it. It is definitely not called copying, but it seems the creative inspiration did not fully click for HJ this time around.

From the expectation of Shankar's movie & past offerings from HJ, the music is definitely a letdown, but from a saleability perspective my guess is that it would still sell well. It has the catchy'ness & foot-tapping quality to it.

IMHO a director is the person who selects the song from the variety offered by the music director. Good or Bad, the director also has a share in it.

We know Shankar has better taste than this. We also know HJ can do better. So is it a case of HJ & Shankar not hitting the right 'chord' (pun intended) ?. The listener returns Disappointed :-( !

Overall Rating 3.8 out of 5

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Diversification of Music Portfolio

I have been receiving feedback from all, that i should diversify my music review portfolio. So far I've been doing primarily ARR's select albums.

See So far I've been reviewing primarily ARR's albums, which to me, was like many birds in a single stone. I get to enjoy the music immensely, I get to write about what I enjoy and I get to take a critical view at the same time!

It takes so much time to write a detailed review, approximately of the order of 2-3 hours to analyse, criticize and organise the review.

However, as challenged by some of my buddies, reviews can't be simply confined to what i enjoy, but to let people know what they can enjoy ! It is not that i don't enjoy music from other artists, I definitely do. Vidyasagar, IR, HJ all produce good enjoyable music.

I am not sure that, am yet ready and in-business of doing neutral reviews for non-ARR albums. With more support from readers like you, I will try and diversify the music review portfolio as we go forward. To start with 'Anniyan' will be reviewed

Thanks for your continued patronage & support. And as always, your comments keep blogs rolling. Express yourselves !


Monday, May 16, 2005

Language Complex

Life itself is so complex, but people apparently do not find it complex enough. They have created/named complexes like superiotiy, inferiority complex etc.

I would like to add one more to the list....that is 'Language Complex'. It affects people, not at a international level, but only few, especially in the country of India.

All over the world, language is a tool for communication and just that. As much as some people would like to crow around professing religious fervor towards language, it does not change the ground reality that, for societies to interact, communicate, exchange cultural ideas, there should something common, akin to currency for trade.

English has been accepted as defacto-official language for the same. People from British colonies, generally seem to have better liking for english than their native tongue. Quite understable considering centuries of subjugation at the hands of the Royal crown.

I work at a place, that has ethnically/linguistically diverse population. It is interesting to note that people from all over the world speak english with a native accent (not desi's reference to 'US' accent). Their English grades would make their report cards not very flattering....but hold on a second, they are not ashamed. They accept & understand their limitation, work towards improving their language skills and don't feel ashamed at not being able to match the 'american accent' word-by-word, syllable-by-syllable.

Most importantly, they don't ridicule & belittle fellow countrymen at their inability to give american's a run for their money in the race to match the accent.

But, why is it that, many of our countrymen, pass judgements on how the desi we know, can't speak accented english or even worse, glorify & adore people who can !.

Dudes/Dudettes, let us face it... we are not born with a tongue for american accent. We are born to speak our native tongue. If you can speak accented english, great !, If you can't, not all is lost, work towards improving your language skills.

No, am not condoning the fact that lack of mastery over english language is not very good, but to judge, malign, belittle, glorify people, on purely the english they speak is simply unacceptable.

Once again, this does not mean that your ability to communicate need be compromised. Communication, by the way, is a two-way traffic. You should be able to articulate your thoughts/ideas and be willing to listen to others at the same time. Without adequate communication skills you will NOT be able to survive the globalization factor, similar to how one can't survive the world without currency that has a global equivalent !

Next time around, shall we let ourselves be judged before we try to judge others ?

On a lighter note, when i place phone orders with Baja Fresh, they ask for a name and when i oblige, it invariably ends up as Arby, Arve, Rovin, Ari,Aven etc :-) we always laugh it away ! and yes that is the spirit !

Peace unto all !

Related Note : Siva,as his wont, had dished out a 'karamana' (spicy) blog, on language....check it out

Google's Holy Grail Exposed

For quite sometime now, Google has developed a huge following. It may not be completely a fan-base, but it includes various cross-sections, including people who are just curious.

As I was discussing this phenomenon with 'EyeStreet Eswar', he made a valid point, that many people seem to have a soft corner for Google unlike Mircosoft. Google looks more philanthropical than Mircosoft was the subject of the discussion...

Now for the first time, Google has come out with an 'official' presentation about 'Behind the Scenes' at Google.com

Yours truly is a Google fan, unabashedly so. A google on google, brought forth the following interesting links for the interested people out there.

Google Behind the Scenes

Also, their Gmail which has retained the ravest reviews in the recent public memory also has been unofficially openend by many enthusiasts.

GMail under the hood

There are various other articles out there as to how Google manages to squeeze out so much performance....couple of other articles that caught my eye were

Rocket Science & Plumbing & Reducing Latency by Preload

For the programming geeks, there are some Google Open source projects that help in 'multi-threaded' programming, performance analysis etc...check out Google Code

So long...happy googling.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

[C says..] Clock

I am a clock...am all powerful to dictate time and when i have no 'power', to stop 'time'

See C's Origin

[C says..] Answering Machine

I am an Answering Machine...I am a very good listener and I feel letdown when people don't talk to me

See C's Origin

Friday, May 13, 2005

[Book Watch] History of Tamils

Now reading....'History of Tamils' by PT Srinivasa Iyengar.

After reading potentially mysterious origins of western culture & religion, whe i saw this book's title, it appealed to me immediately.

The book was first published in 1920/30s and the copy I have seemed to be as old ;). May be i was imagining, but i though i saw silverfish crawl out of the book :-)

The book is written with the typical British dominant India style (would leave the interpretation to those with speculative minds)

The title is more of misnomer, the book talks about ancient India, lotsa history, lotsa speculation, theses, quotations - which makes it a nice read.

So far, my only gripe has been information organization - it makes no coherent sense whatsoever....the topics that are vary every section and time it is treated in, jump from II Millienium BC to V century AD and come back to BC in the next chapter...

Current chapter talks too verbosely about Agam-Naanoru & Puram-Nanooru and lotsa examples from it.

BTB, i managed to find the reference to 'yaayum yaayum yaraagiyaro' (from 'Narumugaye' - Iruvar what a wonderful song).

Man those poems, if called tamizh, easily pre-dates what we call as Sangathamizh....and most of us, including politicians can do squat to 'save' that thamizh. None use such language to communicate. I doubt how many lines in those poems can even be explained by thousands of tamizh teachers back home.

It is like Sanskrit ;nobody uses sanskrit for speaking purposes anymore.

Anyway, will keep you posted with an update soon.....very interesting book.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

[Song Watch] Sangamam

Sangamam by Raghuman, Vindhiya - Suresh Krishna.

A musical, clean, family movie (can't call it entertainer ;)). This movie had elaborate PR sessions conducted by Pyramid Natarajan and i think the music deserved such PR. Apparently, the sales of the album provided enough funds for the producer to complete his next movie 'Rhythm' by the same music director.

Lets get to business.....

Margazhi Thingal - S.Janaki, Unni Krishnan

The songs opens with a recitation of 'Margazhi Thingal' from Thiruppavai. This does it for the song. ARR wins over the listeners already. knowingly or unknowingly - you would already be swaying to the lilting Sindhu Bhairavi ragam.

Janaki starts of the song with Naveen (who else ?) on the flute. Simply intoxicating stuff. A brief mridhangam & Ghatam intro sets the context of the song (it is supposed to a dance number). Is the mridhangam synth ? A million dollar question. But i have *never* heard the mridhangam & ghatam produce musical notes to an extent such as this.

What is with ARR, Sindhu Bhairavi and Violins ?. Listen to any of the songs by ARR in sindhu bhairavi. His violin orchestra is out and what a terrific job they do !. All the violinists much just be salivating at the prospect of ARR unleashing a Sindhu Bhairavi. You can see the violins joining in before the pallavi ends. Can it get any better ?

The interlude is perfectly suited for a dance segment - with mridhangam & ghatam stealing the show...too lovely. Any one learning sindhu bhairavi, the essence of the ragam is captured amazingly in 5 seconds between 3.08-3.13.

The 1st stanza is cute and sorry to sound repetitive, but you can hear how delectable the rhythm at iruvarum oru murai.... That section is one notable deviation from Sindhu Bhairavi notes, and have seen many composers use that arrangement in Sindhu Bhairavi as well as in Keeravani. (As always, any suggestion as to that pattern/enlightenment welcome :-) ).

second interlude, and its Naveen's turn to charm us in the background of jathi's with his flawless rendition of Sind...

Unni starts the second stanza. Unfortunately, with such high expectations set so far, this stanza fades in comparison to the rest of the song. Unni handles himself well.

As is ARR's style, the song finishes of with Janaki's alaap.

This is ARR's tribute to Sindhu Bhairavi and i can think of the only other song that comes parallel to it is (Mile Sur Mera from the older 'DD' days. You can keep introducing umpteen subtle variations into Mile Sur... and would be beautiful)

Rating 5 out of 5 (Could have been 5.2 but for the second stanza)

Sowkiyama - Nithyashree (please find the lyrics at the end of the review)

A perfect opening on Maand greets you with a nice symphony of Veena, Dhavil & Mridhangam. The swarams by the chorus 'Sa Ga Ri Sa ni Ri Sa ni dha ni' set the tone for the song to come.

Nithyashree follows with the Pallavi. The notes (what instrument is that ? synth veena gamakam ? ) at 0.58 & 1.12 accentuate Maand in the pallavi, which immediately sets in the 'Ghanjira'. Pallavi, unlike the traditional cine industry songs, but more like ARR's style, explores a full 2 minute stretch which is quite beautifully done.

Kadri Gopalnath joins in to dish us out a perfect feast in Maand. After Duet, this has been Kadri's next collaboration with ARR, obviously to a very limited scope than in Duet. His Sax takes you on a soulful ride into the interlude with his inimitable sprightly style.

The 1st stanza continues as expected until you reach 'kOdi kaiyyil enai koLLai iDu, kOdi kaiyyil enai aLLi eDu' which is lovely twist to the tune that brings in ARR's preferred Maand phrase 'anbu nathane aNindha modhiram'. You can sharpen your ears and listen to 'suTTu vizhi kanDale' line from 'Thillana' (Muthu). There are probably couple of other places that he used this phrase with such melody. (Ofcourse, it is not copying). One more point to note here is the lyrics by Vairamuthu. If you just look at the extent of poetic exaggeration, you would realise
'anbu nathane aNindha modhiram vaLayalagave thurumbena iLaithaen
andha modhiram oDDiyaNamai Aagum munname Anbe azhaithaen'

I have been thinking so much (lost my weight)) about you that my wrist can now wear my ring
Let me express my love, before my waist slims even more, that it will fit my ring

Chords have been consistenly used in the song, to set the mood and convey the emotion and they do a wonderful job in anupallavi. Kadri finishes off the song with a very standard movement on Maand.

Altogether, this song once again has been devoted to the ragam Maand in exploring its beauty. Once again ARR ambles home easily.

Rating 5 out of 5

Alala Kanda - MSV & Hariharan

MSV starts off this song and you are immediately reminded of 'ThAi nilam thandha varam thAvaram' from DD days by MSV :-), more out of his voice than anything else. But for the odd harmonium, the song is bereft of any musical instrument (ofcourse, rhythm pattern) and still with the deft use of kaapi'ish notes ARR manages to bring a subtle melodious touch to the song. Only ARR.

Rating 4.4 out of 5

Varaga Nadhi - Shankar Mahadevan

This song announced the big time arrival of Shankar Mahadevan to music industry down south. Even though he had been regular in ARR's musical journey, this was his first solo with the maestro.

As is ARR's wont, the song starts off with alaap by Shankar with shades of Yaman Kalyani. Tabla sets quite a fast paced rhythm for the song with harmonium backing the voice. (seemed to follow the style of late Nusrat....). Shankar carries with him this modern bhAgavathar style of singing, nice and fresh nonetheless that immediately caught your attention. kannil varum... brings oozes Yaman Kalyani....

Interlude.... a typical ARR piece, very nice chorus and chords - once again it teases you to join the tune, only to evade you like the river babbling all over the rocks in its bed, with unexpected turns. Simply Wonderful !

the first stanza is nicely done and once again, ARR teases you only to keep you wanting more. Listen to 'parandhu vandhu.....virundhu kudu' at the end of this line, there is a chorus hum, which when extended to a note lower can then be used to finish off the previous lines 'nee enna.....nizhala pidichikitten' -almost evoking a 'vasaanthi' feeling Listen to 4.25-4.28 that is the closest to what am explaining('Kurukku' from Mudhalvan). (i.e., sing nizhala pidichikittaen with the hum going lower by couple of notes from the virindhu kudu line)

Second interlude, ARR is back to his flute ways - does'nt look like Naveen is on there...but it is excellent with a melancholic touch, the same feeling evoked by the hum (as said above).

Second stanza is very similar to the first one, with minor differences of chorus and the song finishes off on a bit more sombre note than it promised with its opening. Once again, a expectation that can only be set by ARR.

Rating 4.6 out of 5

Mazhai ThuLi - MSV, Hariharan

The song opens to what is called 'thArai thappaTTai' rhythm base and Hariharan alaap'ing :) The pallavi is very normal with the twist to Kaapi'ish notes occasionally bringing in the softness to the song.

Interlude. A brief string piece, quite nice adorns the interlude. 'thaNiyile meen azhudha' has lotsa power chords backed into it and is quite wonderful one must say. The lyrics is well done and just before the anupallavi starts, ARR tries to bring one more violin/chord arrangement (This man never ceases to experiment !). Second interlude is once again brief and MSV steps in with superb ease and changes the tone of the song to a more mellow one. The line 'kalaikoru tholvi kidayathu' is the story of the movie in one line ;p

Rating 4 out of 5

Mudhal Murai - Srini, Sujatha

Sujatha's magical voice opens the song with the air howling. Once again mridhangam/ghaTam form the rhythm pattern.

The pallavi is so simple, cute and oozes melody. I don't know why, but it is all so simple and i don't feel like detailing the pallavi ! Interlude has lovely synth flute arrangement, only to be interrupted by ARR with his customary alaap (remember Roja? who can not ?) and a lilting bells/flute arrangement.

Sujatha is simply adorable when she goes 'kAlgilal kidandha salangayai thiruDi'...catch the rhythm pattern there, it appears only once but IMHO it is so wonderful. Srini comes in with melodious voice and the song wanders into the world of melody, cutsy sankarabharanam notes. (Which, IMHO, is one ragam that has never brought the melody via carnatic song, film music seems to bring such melody from Sank...)

The second interlude is a thaniAvardhanam by Ghanjira/claps and then synth flute - ARR is at his best when he does these kinda arrangements. Second interlude is once again excellently done, but Sujatha hijacks all the honours. Their combo (not duet, but solo) has produced one more melody that i enjoy... 'Nee Enge' from Taj Mahal.

Vairamuthu won National award for the this song

Rating 4.8 out of 5.

There had been rumours that ARR himself constructed the theme of the movie,the songs and then sold his idea. Not sure how far it is true...but songs are wonderful and soulful melodies-did not get their deserved place in the history of melodies due to the pathetic movie.

Overall Rating 4.7 out of 5

Lyrics with Translation for the Song Sowkiyama
soukiyama kanne soukiyama...
How are you doing my dear (3)

thanadom theem
(all dance sounds)

ena vizhigalil nandamittai
(you danced in my eyes)

pinbu idyathil irangi vittai
(then, you got into my heart)

mella mella enuirai parithu kondai
(ever so slowly, you robbed my life)

manadai thazhuvum oru ambanai
(you became an arrow that hugs the heart)

paruvam kothi vitta paravai aanai
(you pecked at my youth, and flew away)

(dance sounds)
salangayum engudhe adhkidakattum nee
(it yearns, but it can wait, are you ok my dear)

sooriyan vandhu va enum bodhu
(when the sun comes out asking)
ena seyyum pani thuli
(what can the dew drop do, but agree)

kodi kayil ennai alli edu
(grab me by crore hands)

anbu nadhane anindha modhiram valayalagave thurumbena ilaithen
(my dear, my ring has become like a bangle, i've slimmed so much
thinking about u)

andha modhiram oddiyanamai agum munname anbe azhaithen
(before that bangle becomes big enough to become the hip-ring (an
ornament) - i'm calling out for u)

en katril swasam illai
crudely put - my air has no breath (whatever it means) :)

adhu kidakattum vidu unakkenna achu
(forget that, how are you my dear...)

Another Victim....

The latest one to join the bandwagon is Arun, called as AP, by everyone else in the world.

We have known each other since time immemorial, starting as opening pair of batsmen in street level matches almost 18 years back. After much nudging on my part and grudging, from his part - he finally said 'I do' to blog ! Welcome aboard dude.

Yes, Blog Addiction has been claiming victims in such a widespread fashion that it can called the new 'e-pidemic'.

You can enjoy Arun's view at theonlyap

Enjoy !

Monday, May 09, 2005

[Book Watch] Fantastic Voyage...follow up

Following up on Fantastic Voyage by Ray & Terry.

What started off on a much promising note finally turned into a run-of-the-mill, how to keep oneself healthy.

It is kinda scary...according to the recommendation & their program (Ray & Terry's program) you end up taking upwards of 80 odd supplements/pills every day !.

The book had relevant passages of where the future is and what promise it holds. It may be interesting to people who specialize in bio-studies.

But i started losing interest half-way through the book, nonetheless, what kept me going was the continuous references to spices (not explicitly called 'Indian') that were supposedly healthy!

The book also quashed the myth, now popular, amongst the Desi community that Rotis/Wheat products in-itself is hands down superior to rice. Apparently, if at all it is better, both of them are equally not so good for health.

Having said that, 'Home Pride's Whole Wheat Bread is simply the best of bests !....however, I never get to taste the honey, which seduces your nose-while at the bread aisle in the super-market. Is that a fragrance/air-freshner ?

Anyway, the book overall does not live up to its promise.

Overall Rating : Can Read - 3.3 out of 5

Saturday, May 07, 2005

God's Competitors a.k.a Mothers

Mother's Day is celebrated on May, 8th Sunday. There are many blogs that already pay glowing tributes to mom's all over. Check out Raman's, Srikanth's, Ammani's and more.....

It is only fitting that 'Infinite goodness' can be glorified in infinite ways.

Mothers defy Science (no chemical reaction can signify their love), Math (no math equation can signify her ability to divide infinite love equally infinitely, among her children), Biology (no living organ can signify the compassion she has) and so on...

Affection,care,selflessness and many more adjectives, even that are yet to be coined, can be used to glorify their goodness and themselves.

Mothers give God a run for His money. Mom sure does tend to all her children and can't bear all her children beating each other up. 'He' himself can't seemingly do that, looking at so much destruction in the world (This topic can't be treated fully here, out-of-scope)

It would be only pertinent to ask, what would make a mother most happy. Have we been behaving ourselves as children ? if we have, then as Her children - mother of all mothers ?

With so much to distinguish themselves from other lesser mortals in the world....mothers can be His perfect competitors ....alas, they have been the people, who have the utmost devotion & dedication to Him/Her. Is that something we have to learn ?

Funny are the ways of Her.

To mothers all over the world, the past, the present, the future, the omnipresent - let us keep them all happy and let Her children be all peaceful.

Thankyou mothers !

Electronic Media

As recommended by Raman, MIT's OpenCourseWare is definetely something that we should all be looking into. They have very pertinent and helpful resources.

While browsing , I landed on this course about communication, and one particular article about 'Teaching Note on Electronic Media' is an absolute read for all of us.

I found it funny that they had noted 'lol' as lots of luck :-)

lol....Happy reading.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Comparative Matrix

Analysis is a critical skill that most humans seem to have been born with. Be it a book, mp3 player, TV, renting an apartment, buying a car or the biggest of all, selecting a life partner - all of us analyse it before deciding what to do with them

It is interesting to know that, you don't have to do mental math - all of it can be articulated and evaluated via a simple matrix. (Simple hand drawn matrix or MS Excel etc)

How does the comparative matrix work ?

The idea of comparative matrix is to be able to tabulate the products under comparison on specific selection criteria with varying importance. e.g. Compare all brands of TVs with selection criteria being Screen size, Brand Name, Sleekness and size of remote - with the first three criteria obviously being supremely important than the remote size.

Let us look at in detail (with a car example)

Now what are the players in the game ?

1) The products we are evaluating (like Camry, Accord & Maxima)
2) Selection criteria (like sleek style, resale value, maintenance, color)
3) Importance or Weightage a.k.a Weights (like resale value is critical, while color might be less important etc )

So while comparing, one should be thinking of the resalve value of toyota might be better than others, while the Accord might be sleeker than others and Maxima might be easier to maintain. You would obviously want to prioritize or weigh the importance of each criteria. Here is how you would do it.

Step 1 : Decide on the selection criteria (like Sleekness, Maintenance, Resale Value etc)
Step 2 : Assign weight/importance to the criteria - so that they add upto 100% (like Sleekness-10% Maintenance-50% Resale Value-40%)
Step 3: Decide on the list of products you want to evaluate (like Camry, Accord & Maxima)
Step 4: Write down the list of products - top-down (i.e. vertical lines)
Step 5: Write down the list of selection criteria - left-right (i.e. horizontal)
Step 6: Write down the weights under each of the selection criteria

Table 1: Basic Comparative Matrix

Sleekness(10%)Maintenance (50%)Resale (40%)Total Score

Voila, you are now ready to come up with data for scientific evaluation, which can then provide information to make your decision making process easier.

Let us proceed... Now rate each car on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest & 10 being the highest) for all of these criteria (like Sleekness for camry is 8, Accord is 10, Maxima is 8 etc ).

Table 2: Comparative Matrix with Rating
Sleekness(10%)Maintenance (50%)Resale (40%)Total Score

The Total score is arrived at thus...

Total Score = sum of all (rating * weight) per criteria.
Total Score (for camry) = (sleekness8 * weight10) + (maintenance9 * weight50) +(Resale10 * weight40)
Total Score (for camry) = 80 + 450 + 400 = 930.

Table 3: Final Comparative Matrix
Sleekness(10%)Maintenance (50%)Resale (40%)Total Score

Now based on the scores, you can see that Camry comes out with the highest total score and hence is the best bet based on your ratings and weightage for the selection criteria.

As stated initially, this approach can be used for many things like renting a new apartment (Rent,Utils,Location,Commute,Lease terms,Facilities etc), Buying a home, or as some people have already vouched, for selecting your life partner !

Disclaimer: The brands used here are all trademarks of the respective organizations and this blog's intention is not to judge any brand, it was used for representative purposes only. The author is not responsible for any damages/failed evaluation based on the use of this matrix idea, especially your life partner ;p !

Now that you are armed with the best method of evaluation, Sit back, relax & enjoy...wait, don't forget to put this to use for the betterment of your lifestyle :-)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

[Book Watch] Angels & Demons..follow up

Dan Brown did it again. Started this book early last week and b.logged the initial thougts. As with his first book (The Da Vinci Code), he made me go through the entire 550 odd pages in 3-4 days.

He brings in an amazing mixture of facts (locations, architectural artifacts, museums etc) and fiction (the story itself) and mysterious groups (Priory of Sion in 'Da..' and Illuminati in this one) with the Robert Langdon as the pivot.

The plot the (then latest) invention of 'anti-matter' that is stolen and the Illuminati kidnapping four of the perfereti cardinals and announcing their death at the stroke of every hour. Church is also held hostage with the anti-matter set to explode reducing the vatican to dust within the next 4 hours. Meanwhile a conclave to elect the new pope is just about to begin. Will the church relent by calling off the conclave, will Robert Langdon help the church find anti-matter, will he defuse the crisis ? forms the rest of the story.

It is very racy, with twists and turns at every corner, some of them quite obvious and some of them apparently not. But in the end he tries one too many and atleast I could see the twist endings coming after the end ! Don't want to give away any more.

Ofcourse, as with 'Da V..' this book also has its fair share of what everyone would call as 'blasphemous passages' but hey, as the author repeatedly cries, think about it and make your own decision.

Rating : Regarding the decision of whether or not to read the book, i definetely recommend reading (think about it and make your own decision)

Happy Reading !