Chennai

Names of subways in TNagar

If you travel  in Usman Road, T.Nagar (Chennai) from South to North you will encounter three under-bridges to cross the suburban (electric) railway line. The under-bridges run East to West (perpendicular) to Usman Road, are called in local parlance as Subway(s). They are Aranganathan Subway (near Saidapet), Madeley Subway (near T.Nagar bus terminus), Duraisamy Subway (near Panagal Park). Being a resident of the area I was curious about the origin of their names. Today that’s what I did with the help of Chennai’s own heritage writer Sriram V and Karthik Bhatt.

  1. Aranganathan Subway  was named the DMK volunteer Thiru.Aranganathan, who lost his life by self-immolation for Hindi agitation cause.
  2. Madeley Subway was named the British Engineer Mr.JW Madeley who was Special Engineer for Waterworks and Drainage under whose supervision most of the drains in Madras were laid
  3. Duraisamy Subway was named a famous eye specialist Dr. Duraisamy

Incidentally Usman Road got its name after Governor Sir Mohammed Usman.

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Movies-TV-Videos

Lingaa (2014)

Rajinikanth starring Lingaa (லிங்கா) got released yesterday on superstar’s birthday. Rajni’s fans had been waiting for the superstar’s next movie for last 4 years, with Endhiran (2010) being his previous movie. Rajni appears in two characters, one as a British era collector (and Raja Lingeswaran) with Sonakshi Sinha as his pair, second as a present day common thief Lingaa with Anusha Shetty as his love. Santhanam provides the comedy relief. The movie is about how Raja Lingeswaran builts on his own funds a dam for the welfare of Solaiyur, he succeeds in his mission even with stiff opposition from a British collector but ends up losing all his Royal wealth. After 70 years, in the present time the dam is in danger of being demolished by a local MP for his greed to get commission if a new one is built.

I went to the movie today in Mayajaal multiplex. Almost all screens was showing Lingaa and all of them were running full, I had booked my ticket 4 days back. Driving on a Saturday to ECR and returning to city is a pain due to the traffic. Added to that trouble, the multiplex was in bad condition with poor maintenance. This will be my last visit to Mayajaal.

Coming back to the movie. The movie fails to leave you with any impression unlike typical Rajni movies. There is not even any Punch dialogue!!!. The first thing you feel when you come out of the theatre is how long the movie has been running at 3 hours, easily 30-40 minutes could have been cut without any loss.

Sonakshi and Anushka appear beautiful, with Anushka slightly on the plumpy side compared to say Singam 2. Both of them appear young to be romancing with Rajni, Anushka character had a bit of chemistry with Rajni to go with, but Sonakshi character’s settings felt  as Father & Daughter like relationship. The songs have been pictured very well, the sets and costumes were enchanting. I saw in the title card A.R.Rahman’s name as Music Director, the background score was good but I didn’t hear Rahman in any of the songs.

Generally in Rajni movie, actors playing his friends circle are remembered for long. Think of Y.G.Mahendran and gang in Veera (1994), Senthil in Arunachalam (1997), Goundamani in Baba (2002) or Vivek in Sivaji (2007).  Unfortunately in this movie, Santhanam and gang fail to make any impression.

Regarding the Raja Lingeswaran character, it seems to be an attempt by Director K.S.Ravikumar to tick every possible superlative – British Collector, tick; Maharaja with boundless riches,tick; Civil Engineer,tick; Patriotic Indian,tick; Socialist, tick. As a result we are unable to identify with the character, he becomes an imagination, a mythical figure. So when the Raja loses all his wealth to treachery of British collector, we are unable to feel for his loss. Contrast this to Muthu (1995), when  Rajni character walks out singing Vidu Kathaiya, a whole generation watching the film cried with the song.

Regarding the present day Lingaa character of a common thief, for me, a con man Rajni can be  Johnny (1980) or a master criminal like Billa (1979) or even the comical stealer in Ninaithale Inikkum (1979). With that impression in mind, to see Rajni playing a young common thief and stealing a jewel from a five star hotel, looks so amateurish and tasteless.

Finally, I felt this film is a wasted storyline and opportunity by the Director. Had he taken only the story of the Raja Lingeswaran (with inspiration from rumoured Mullaperiyar dam by John Pennycuick) as a period film, the film could have been smaller, focussed and provided enough to feed Rajni fan’s hunger for action!

lingaa

 

 

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India, Yoga

International Yoga Day falls on my son’s birthday

When I picked up the morning newspaper today with my cup of coffee, I was delighted to see a full page advt. from Ministry of External Affairs (Govt. of India). It was the announcement of United Nations announcing June 21st as International Day of Yoga. My joy was not because of my love for Yoga (which I have been practicing for last 14 years) but because June 21st is my only son’s birthday!!!. My 11 year old son has been doing Yoga for last many years as well.

Having said this, I am aware that this may amount to nothing on ground to spread the art of Yoga. But then in life we don’t need to be left-brained always, symbolic occasions like this should be enjoyed!!!

Picture of Yoga statues in New Delhi Airport (Terminal 3), Courtesy: MEA

Picture of Yoga statues in New Delhi Airport (Terminal 3), Courtesy: MEA

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Apple, Gadgets, Google, Microsoft

Project your device screen to TV

Video Projectors in conference rooms and Televisions are two equipments which have 98% unwanted user controls and features. In my view the job of a projector or a TV is to simply show the input it gets. There is no need for 200 buttons on them and in their remote controls. In every presentation I have done in last two decades there has been only a handful of events where I could effortlessly show my laptop onto the big screen. The sad truth is that it need not be this way and Steve Jobs with obsession over simplicity proved it.

In my living room I have been using Apple TV for last four years. To throw the display from any Apple device (say iMac or iPad) to a big screen, Apple TV is still the simplest. Thanks to Apple’s AirPlay technology and their Remote App.

Life was never meant to be easy, especially technology gadgets. My world is not Apple exclusive.  In my house & work there are Windows PC, Windows Phone, Android Phone apart from iMac & iPad. So what’s is out there that can help me. When I started searching on the subject I was prepared not to find a single device that will work across all platforms. Before I write down what I found, time for a disclaimer. I am yet to try out these gadgets on my own, what I have given below are my armchair observations. 

Teewe

We will start with a Bangalore (India) product. It’s called Teewe, this device is probably the cheapest you can get in India,  costing INR 1999 ($32).  It’s a small USB dongle like gadget that has just two ports, one Micro USB for power input and the second a HDMI port connects to TV/Projector to output video/audio. Teewe allows you to play content (Music, Videos and Pictures) from your local device or from YouTube, on to a big screen (TV/Projector). Teewe gadget has no controls on it (I like this). You control it remotely from an App that’s available for Android, iOS, Mac OS X & Windows PC (no Windows Phone). It requires an existing Wi-Fi Network to which both your device (Phone/Laptop) and Teewe gadget can both connect to.

One missing feature for me was Teewe not supporting screen casting. This means Teewe can’t mirror your entire device screen (say Android phone or Windows laptop) on to the big screen. This means you can’t project your Powerpoint slides or Excel spreadsheets or Internet browser.

If Music/Video/Photo/YouTube is all you want to play on a big screen and your device is Android, iOS, Mac OS X or Windows PC, you should try out Teewe.

An HDMI dongle which plugs into your TV.

Teepee – An HDMI dongle which plugs into your TV

Google Chromecast

In this HDMI dongle, this is the widely familiar product – Google Chromecast, costing $35 in USA. This week Google India that Chromecast will be coming soon to India for Rs.2999 ($49). This too looks like Teewe, has a HDMI and Micro USB Port (for Power), has an App for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows PC devices (again no Windows Phone). It allows you to play any media (Video, Picture, Music) and YouTube content. Apart from this you can screencast what’s on your Android device (this works only for Android) and Google Chrome browser tabs. There is currently an “experimental” mode to screencast your entire desktop (PC screen) using Chromecast as well.

This gadget is a widely supported one across many apps and platforms, apps including Plex.TV support Chromecast.

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Update 12/Dec/2014: Google updated screen casting to work with any device running Android 4.4.2 or higher with the Chromecast app, which can now share screen to Chromecast.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

You know it’s a Microsoft product because of the uncool name it has – Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. Its available only in USA and it costs $60.

This is also a USB dongle like device with HDMI and MicroUSB port for power. It has apps for Android & Windows 8 that allows you to play not only media but entire screen including presentations from your Windows PC or Android devices. This is the only device that I could find that supports Windows Phone. It’s a Miracast supported device. Microsoft’s device uses Wi-Fi Direct which means even if you don’t have a Wi-Fi network your mobile device and Wireless Display Adapter can work together.

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

Windows 7 Screencasting

If your device that you want to project is not an Android/iOS/Mac OS/Windows 8 but old Windows 7, then you need to buy any one of the 3rd party gadgets out there. I found this one called Actiontec Screenbeam costing $70 or so.

Others

Apart from the above products, I noticed there are two other popular gadgets. First is Amazon Fire TV Stick costing $39 and supports voice commands. Second is Roku Streaming stick costing $50. Both come with convenient remote control as well.

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Faith-Religion-Temple

Karthikai Deepam

Every year in many parts of Tamil Nadu people celebrate the festival of lights – Karthikai Deepam. This is different from Diwali, which is also called Festival of Lights. Here Karthikai indicates the current month (mid November to mid December) in Tamil Calendar. Deepam means lamp, indicating the glow from the wick of an oil lamp. In Karthikai Deepam function, people light oil lamps all around their houses and temple. Then pray to almighty to shine light in their lives just like the oil lamps. Karthigai festival in Tiruvannamalai temple, Tamil Nadu is very famous, there a huge holy fire is lit on top of a hill as an offering to Lord.

At my house we celebrate in good style Karthikai Deepam every year. When I was a kid, we used to burst crackers during the day, Karthikai Deepam being the only other day apart from Diwali when bursting crackers was allowed. Nowadays, due to environmental concerns and modern lifestyle, I am hearing few crackers being burst by individuals in Chennai during the festival.

We light all oil lamps inside the house and take it outside

We light all oil lamps inside the house and then take it outside, where it’s tricky to keep them glowing in the wind

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