Sunday, February 21, 2010

The 'Lagaan' of South Africa

Note 1: If you haven't watched either 'Lagaan' or 'Invictus', there is not much point reading this further. Maybe you can jump directly to Part II of this post.

Note 2: Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers!
Part I:

Once upon a time in India...

Based on a true story...

The kings collected a portion of the grains as tax (Lagaan). They kept a small part, and transferred the rest to the British under the rule of 'Her Majesty The Queen'. British grew more powerful in India with the farmers' sweat and blood. Last year, there was little rain. This year, rains have not begun yet. Dry eyes look towards the sky, for rain-clouds....

President Mandela takes office in Pretoria in 1994. Facing issues that range from economic stagnation, unemployment, to rising crime, while, at the same time, balancing blacks' aspirations, with whites' fears...

Captain Russel: "Last year on your request, we took half-tax. This year, you pay us double tax."
Raja Puran Singh: "But there have been no rains this year!"
Captain Russel: "The British Rule does not bathe in Indian Rains, Raja Singh. Rains or no rains, we have to run this land - for your protection. Its just double tax!"

Nelson Mandela: "Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon. This is no time to celebrate petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation. Using every single brick available to us, even if that brick comes wrapped in green and gold.

If we take away what they cherish, the 'Springboks', their national anthem, we just re-inforce the cycle of fear between us... "

Nelson Mandela [watching rugby]: "All the whites cheer for South Africa. All the blacks cheer for England."

Captain Russel: "Ok. I will cancel the tax. But, on a condition. You beat us in cricket, and I will cancel your tax. But, in case you lose - triple tax ... (silence) ... I raise the bet, you beat us, and we cancel your two years' tax ... (silence) ... I raise the stakes further. You win, and I cancel taxes for the next three years, not only for Champaner, but for the entire province. Two times the tax, or, you accept the bet?"

Bhuvan: "I accept your challenge..."

Nelson Mandela: "What is your philosophy on Leadership? How do you inspire your team to do their best?"
Francois Pienaar: "By example..."
Nelson Mandela: "But, how to get them to be better than they think that they can be? That is very difficult, I find. Inspiration perhaps. How do we inspire ourselves to greatness while nothing less would do. How do we inspire everyone around us?

When I was invited to 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, everybody in the stadium greeted me with a song. At that time, the future, our future, seemed very bleak. But to hear that song in the voices of people from all over our planet made me proud to be a South African. It inspired me to come home and do better. It allowed me to expect more of myself. It was Nkosi Sikelel' Afrika - 'God Bless Africa'."

Bhuvan: "This is an opportnity. Can you pay double tax? No. Agreed, we are weak. But, there is hope. And I want to transform this opportunity into reality. If we win, we would be prosperous. No tax for three years! That means our grains will only be ours, not anybody else.
Yes, I dream. And only they who dream them, realize them. 3 months is not a short time. We can learn the game and beat them!"

Villagers: "No-one would co-operate with you. You are crazy... ""

Bhuvan: "This game is not difficult. The British, with in their white uniforms, call this game cricket, and we call it gilli danda. We have been playing this game for generations!"

Nelson Mandela: "Because in order to build our own nation, we must all exceed our own expectations"

Elizabeth: "I would like to help them learn the game. Because I know what happened to them is unfair, and I want to give them a fair chance..."

Minister of Sport: "According to the experts, we'll reach the quarter-finals, and no further."
Nelson Mandela: "According to the experts, you and I should still be in jail."

The national rugby team plays with black children. Mutual trust and respect increases. The country gets a common passion - a sport, Rugby.

Villagers: "We should co-operate with Bhuvan. A British girl is helping us, while we sit idle?"

Bhuvan: "This is not a game we are playing for our entertainment, this is a fight, which we have to win."
They build a team, a team which has passion, the burning desire to win, and everyone comes to their support...

Minister of Sport: "We have already exceed all expectations." 
Nelson Mandela: "Its not enough. Not now. Not so close. This country is hungry for greatness"

...they won, against all odds. Against all obstacles, they won! The Gods were pleased, and it rained!

I thank whatever gods may be;
For my unconquerable soul.
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul...
--- Invictus (Invincible)


Part II:

Two powerful pieces of cinema - 'Invictus' and 'Lagaan', about two (similar?) countries, facing similar problems.

"His people needed a leader. He gave them a champion."

'Invictus' shows just how powerful a symbol can be in uniting people, a country, together, and make them strive for prosperity. And, the symbol can be as trivial as a sport! Coupled with the fact that it is based on a story which took place just a decade back, the story is surprising, moving, touching, inspiring, and mind-boggling...

Some of the very brilliant scenes in the movie includes Mandela inviting Fracois, the captain of the rugby team, over tea, and that in which Francoise visits Mandela's prison. The sheer joy one gets during the final sequences in the moments, when a black child enjoys the World Cup Rugby finals with a couple of cops on the radio is indescribable. Added to it is a very powerful portrayal of Nelson Mandela by Morgan Freeman, also nominated for an Oscar this year.

Having seen 'Lagaan' in a theatre myself, I can just imagine how over-whelmed the people of South Africa must be by this movie, and what the audience reactions to this movie must be in the theaters. I can hear them cheer for their National Rugby team during the movie, and re-live their Rugby World Cup victory in 1995. I can see them witnessing the change their country has undergone, and they can do that as proud South Africans. I cannot comment on whether this movie should win an Oscar or not (I have a personal list of favorites), but this is one of the movies which all of us in India should watch, make note, learn, and get inspired from. After all, the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi's struggle began from South Africa.

I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul...

The 'Lagaan' of South Africa...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love (and Networks)

Note 1: This is how (crappy?) my life is, I am "blogging about love" on Valentine's Day. :|

Note 2: By writing this post, I have ruined even that minuscule chance of... :'(

Q: When do you know you are in love?
A: You can never know, you can just feel it.

Four years at IIT has ensured that I do not feel love as a 'human', but four years at 'The Royal Department of Electrical Engineering' has ensured that I have a feel for love as an 'engineer'. I know what I am about to write is not going to impress my B. Tech project guide (nor any girl reading this :D ), but, why do I care? He is not impressed with my project either. :D

Let us examine a simple resistive circuit.

Surely, this cannot be love. That is not how it is supposed to be! A straight line? There definitely must be something more to it. Let us try an inductive circuit.
Err...well this can never be love! True, this is often how some of the modern relationships are. Decreasing with time, exponentially, until it reaches a zero value! Oops... something's gone terribly wrong here. Surely, this cannot be true love. Lets try a capacitive circuit instead.

This seems like a good plot. We can see love increasing progressively with time, and the rise is exponential. But there seem to be two problems. First, it reaches the maximum value only after infinite time :D , and second, the rate of increase of the graph decreases exponentially, so, the relationship seems to get sluggish after sometime.

So, lets come straight to the finale now. An LC circuit. A resonant LC circuit. Here's what it looks like.

Perfect! A charged capacitor of the right rating, coupled to an inductor of the matching rating, and they fall in love. What follows is perfect resonance, in a beautiful sinusoidal wave, going on forever. True, there ARE ups and downs, but love lasts an eternity. One's weaknesses are complemented perfectly by the other. Everlasting support. Energy transferred between them constantly. Forever. In Harmony. Never dies. That's love. True love. And, if you look at that graph very carefully, and let your imagination flow a little, what you see is this...

Love is in the air....
And all you need is love!

P.S: I Love You <3

P.P.S: Yes, I really do! Its ok that you don't know me, but yes, its true...

Love (and Networks)...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Note 1: After the overdose of 'girls' in my previous two posts, I thought I should focus a little on 'guys' now. Girls are not the most important thing in life after all, or is it? :D Though, I intend to complete a series of 7 posts on 'girls', sometime in the future maybe.

Note 2: This is probably my first post that can be classified as a 'Personal Rant', something which I have tried to avoid all along. One man's nostalgia is another man's boredom. But, IDGAF. It is MY blog after all. Though, I will try to keep it interesting. And in any case, who reads my blog anyway. (including the fictitious people mentioned here...)

The years at college give us the most amazing friends we are probably going to find during our life. I found none. Sad. That is the reason why, when I am on the verge on leaving college, getting nostalgic and all that crap...I am forced to write about 5 fictitious people I hoped I would have met. Also the precise reason why the title of this post doesn't mean anything. I would have been extremely lucky had I got the privilege of meeting such cool people.

Anubhav Sahoo

Have you seen 'The Matrix'? Remember that guy who did weird things into the computer and got Neo into the Matrix. That character personifies Sahoo. He can do weird stuff using computers. His heart doesn't pump blood, it pumps Javascript. His girlfriend is 'Age of Empires', and that is the ONLY reason why he is single. Girls, you can give him a try if you want to, but let me warn you in advance, he would like to kiss his 2 GB RAM before he would to you. He is also the inventor of a super-secret submarine, which also flies :O. The Indian Armed Forces doesn't know about this yet. Also, his stomach has been known to store 15-20 litres of an inflammable volatile liquid at a time.

Abhinav Shashank

He is THE 'Man from Earth'. He has graced this planet for thousands of years by his august presence. Only, in the process, he ended up a little...ummm...errr...slanted. Believers believe that he has the entire universe inside his mouth. He has walked on water, and turned water to wine. His boons have made billionaires. He has been there and done every possible thing on this whole wide Earth. So much that soon there will be a school in his name at IIT Kharagpur - (A)bhinav (S)hashank (S)chool of (H)VAC (O)r (L)iquid (E)ngineering.

Dhawal Nanda

@All single girls, this cute and handsome guy is single and available (just like 4 out of 5 people in this post are). He is also a good dancer, his favorite number being 'Kajra Re' (his favorite role in that song being that of Aishwarya Rai's). I would advise you not to make any delay, go to his profile, and send him a friend request, he WILL accept it. A true gentleman, he will be the first to strike a conversation, and will ALWAYS return your calls. He is a good listener, and is always ready to lend emotional support during times of distress. He is what you call a perfect package. I wonder why the package has been left unopened yet. I challenge any guy out there who can claim he can boast of a better figure than him :D

Nitesh Mishra

His army background gave him the opportunities of his lifetime, but the gentleman that he is, he let it all go. His traits has often been likened to a crow, and there have been several documentaries on him. He is proud to have eaten only 'French fries' all his life, which earned him the name, much to his dislike, 'Aloo-man'. He doesn't believe in getting married, but instead, in getting marriages done. He knows all the mantras and shlokas by heart, and can be of very good use for all his friends some time soon in the future (hopefully...). He is also known to get violent in the company of small creatures (read Shobhit Singhal).

Shobhit Singhal

'Shobhit ka dimaag Chacha Chowdhary se bhi tez chalta hai'. True Story. What I don't understand about him is where does he store all that brainpower, because the frame of his body is too small for a brain of that size. He is also known to carry a wonderland in his bag, open it, and out comes "one matchstick, 2 GB RAM (just in case of an emergency), one eraser, no pencils, a book on 'Power Systems' (incidentally his favorite subject, has scored a 'P'erfect in all Systems courses), a toothbrush, a railway ticket to Kolkata, a used condom, a crumpled agarbatti, and a dinosaur's egg". He is also dead-against smoking, he can put off any lit cigarette in his vicinity, even when he doesn't want to. He has vowed to get back at Nitesh Mishra, and any other person that has/will get violent with him, and has joined Gym to this effect.

PS : Due apologies to the people missing in the first pic, I will replace it when I get a pic with everyone in it...