Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Story behind my Trips to the Theatre

I've had this post bouncing around in my cranial cavity for sometime but two things finally dragged my bored fingers to finally put it up.

#1 - I saw the film Ko yesterday in the theatre finally.
#2 - Dunston Checks In is on Movies Now at 7 pm today.

As a girl who spent more time at home with imaginary friends, books, rooms built with four pillows, books, Barbies, books, Dragon-Ball-Z, books, Cartoon Network, books, Age of Empires, books, trips to the theatre were very rare. So, I try to recollect the films I saw in theatres in chronological order - of course, they are filled with  stories.

Movie #1 - Dunston Checks In - Somewhere in 2000

As a part of a school field trip to improve English, our IV th standard class was taken to Motcham theatre. That was my very first confrontation with the movie theatre. I was so absorbed in the movie. The next day, the English set up a quiz. Questions were like, "What was the colour of the cake Dunston ran into?". And, thanks to my near-photographic memory, I got all the answers right. I also made a complete fool of myself. I was new to school then. The person next to me was telling me this wasn't as big as Ega theatre. Now, locked away in my vast recesses of memory, I  remembered my mom describing the aforesaid theatre and I repeated the words pretending I knew all about it to fit in. She burst out laughing and told the whole class how her mom told her that my mom told her mom I hadn't actually been to a theatre before. (Good Luck on making that out!). And soon, all the girls in the class started laughing and I felt like imitating an ostrich and burying my head  in shame. I promised myself that I'd try not to lie again.

Movie #2 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Somewhere in 2002

After much pleading and first-rate grovelling, I finally convinced my parents to take me to the movie. I had read only the second book but I wanted to see this before it was too late. Me and my family had an amazing time in the summer vacaction seeing this. And then, we got the CD and me and my sister saw the movie everyday after school from 3 - 5 in the afternoon. We practically know it by-heart.

Movie #3 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - June 7th 2004

I fished the exact date from my diary. It was an amazing treat to see that movie. I saw it in Satyam. Awesome! I saw it with my mom, her friend (mentioned as my friend's mom previously) and her son (my friend's brother). My friend, incidentally, was caught up in a handball match in Shimla. It was, till I saw the last HP film, my favourite. I'm sure Miss Autumn Sunshine would agree.

And yes, Chamber of Secrets released in India six months after, so I saw it already.

Movie #4 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - 2006

This movie was a party! Three friends with their families and my best friend from class. Also, had the first taste of buttered popcorn at Satyam and enjoyed criticising the movie with my friends. Honestly, you call that thing THE MAZE??? Loads of fun, an entire row was ours.

Movie #5 - Mozhi - 2007

My first Tamil movie in theatre. Mind-blowing! I loved the film. I am almost exactly like Archana in that film. I fight, I work, I care and am proud of who I am. My friend's treat. Same as before, three friends and their families. (Oh yeah, that includes my family in the three). Bala Abirami theatre. P.S. I did scream when I saw that cockroach, so huge, on screen. Also, my eyes did, sort of, get clogged with tears at one point. I think, seeing someone cry, affected me. Now, I am a hardened soul (hopefully!)

Movie #6 - Vinnaithaandi Varu Vaaya  - Feb, 26 2010

On the second day after release, ten girls from my class saw the film. No adults and my friend had to assure my parents that they would take great care of me. I liked the experience, the buying the food. Of course, I still thought buttered popcorn cost Rs.20 in Satyam, like it did in 2004 and had to be bailed out by my friends. It was really funny when people asked me how I thought the film was. It was kind of weird, I mean I hate illogical stuff and, well, all Tamil movies seem to be illogical (Mozhi exempted and also 23rd Pulakesi), what do I say? I didn't care how the movie was, I had a great time. Afterwards, I was informed by my better peers that this is a typical storyline but considerable cute locations and dialgoues made it run.

Movie #7 - 3 Idiots - Somewhere in 2010

This time, the same three families, under my continual nudging, saw the film at Ega theatre. I enjoyed it. One of the rare movies, which I enjoyed more than the book. I later realised, that I saw the film on practically the last day.

Movie #8 - Boss engira Baskaran - October 2010

Me and my uncle's family saw this film in PVR cinemas, Bangalore. Also, had buttered popcorn. I really enjoyed the movie a lot, especially the comedy and the songs. I was a bit disappointed on not getting Endhiran tickets, but still I had nothing to complain at the end of it.

Movie #9 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - December 2010

A cosy get-together with five girls from school in EA Escape theatre. Me and my best friend got a couple seat which we ceremoniously adorned with chocolate mousse, popcorn and evrything else, you could spill over in the dark. And it didn't help that she had forgotten half the story and I had to keep prompting her. But still, sky was the limit to the fun we had. I think we sampled every food item for sale and actually missed a precious five minutes of the movie buying food. And, we ran into our school yoga teacher!

Movie #10 - Endhiran - December 2010

For the first time ever, my family went to a Tamil film, organised by us and for us alone. It was great. No other word for it!

Movie #11 - ManMadhan Ambu - Somewhere in Jan or Feb 2011

One family, but the same three friends and my sister in one dragon themed theatre at Abirami Mega Mall. Nice fun. Especially the fact that it rained when we were on our way home.

Movie #12 - Ko - June 21 2011

PVR cinemas, Chennai, me and my Mom had a great time together. The theatre was almost empty and we had a great time in that AC hall during summer solstice. I bought virtually everything popcorn, samosa, sweet corn, soft drinks. I enjoyed it in a pleasant sort of a way.

The End.

And yes, I exist and I am perfectly happy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Story behind the day Google Failed Me - Designing Chrome Themes

As a Harry Potter fan, who eats off a Harry Potter plate, keeps books in a Harry Potter cupboard and has a Harry Potter wallpaper for her desktop, I ventured into finding the Harry Potter themed Chrome browser.

For the first time in living memory, Google had failed me.

The Chrome Store had nothing to offer for regular members of the witchcraft community like me. I saw two themes, and disliked both of them.

So, as I had an amazing amount of time to kill, I decided once and for all, that I will have a Chrome browser theme for Harry Potter.

Finally,  after relentless Googling, I ended up with making my first customised theme.

The Story behind this result goes like this. A guide by a most relentless person on how to design a Google Chrome theme.

First I accessed the online chrome theme creator by googling it (you could also download it from the chrome webstore).

The first tab was pretty simple for me as it just asks you to give the theme name and description.

Now the images tab was also very explicit. As you mouse-over every option, the indicated portion is displayed in red. I have to upload an image for every section. For some strange reason, even if I simply wanted just a solid colour, (for example black for the highlighted theme_toolbar option), I couldn't specify it in the Colors tab and had to upload an image for every portion.

Thus, for the theme_ntp_background, I uploaded the Harry Potter wallpaper.

Then, for each colour, I had a square tile 120x120. The minimum height is 119 pixels. (Learnt that after many disastrous results!). I found that a nice way of choosing colours is to use them from the picture using the dropper tool. 

Thus, I used this picture for the theme_toolbar.

Continuing in a similar vein, I ended up with this layout.

Now I realised that I can't make out the text at all. Later I found that the next tab, Colors, takes care of that. 

Unfortunately, all the colours are specified in hex codes.

To know the hex codes of the colour I used the Dropper tool in GimpShop. Then, I filled the frame option with the exact code corresponding to the image I have uploaded.

So, the hex code is 001B22. I set this for the frame portion. Now the Colors tab is not very clear about the respective placeholder of each option. The frame refers to the place behind the tabs which has already been given an image. Frame inactive is the same region but when the window is inactive. I later learnt can give the colour you want straightaway or give the same colour as the fame active and tint it light or dark using the Tints tab. The same applies for the tabs in incognito mode. Now the toolbar option is a little tricky.

The toolbar option affects the arrows, the status bar at the bottom, and the background of the bookmark panel. Also, I had to choose a dark colour to complement the grey in the status bar. I still haven't figured out how to change that font colour. However, the code is open source and the more HTML zealots can try it out. And the arrows' colour  jar at the moment but I found that they could be easily tinted in the next tab.

In the above screenshot, I have changed all the required font colours. Now, the ntp_header option refers to the background colour of the border in the most visited section. It is not visible in the preview. I've taken a screenshot from the final result for the idea.

The next three options refer to ntp_section. That is the region that is highlighted when you mouse_over the apps.

So then, I chose the appropriate colours for the background, text and link. Sometimes, the changes of text are not reflected in the preview but they are faithfully reproduced finally. The last two options refers to the control buttons (minimize, restore and close).

Next, we come to the tints tab. Here, I just chose the colours that I would like to tint (or add onto) the ones I had already chosen in the previous Colors tab. Sometimes, when I did not want a tint, I chose the exact same colour as before. Also, as I wanted the buttons to be grey, I tinted them so. 

And finally, in the last tab Pack and I chose to apply the theme. But later I learnt it is wise to regularly download zip file and then upload it for changes. Otherwise, I had to start from scratch even if I just wanted to change one parameter.

And I am just enjoying my new creation. 

P.S. I can't wait for the release of the last Harry Potter film!
And, I think my tenses went awry because I have edited this post near twenty times juggling between past and present.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Daddy Dearest

Happy birthday daddy. Writing for you,
this dark and dusky hour, I find the few
words I know incapable of saying
all that I want to say. As I'm playing
the game of life, you are there when I slip,
when I am lost. You are there on the flip
side as well. You encourage me to speak,
whatever it may be, you make me seek
the answers at home. You gave me freedom
to ask and question.You don't let boredom
pervade this house with your jokes and antics.

You taught me to be wise, independent
and brave. You told me to make tears redundant.
You told to believe in me, myself and I.
You let me dream as high as the sky.
You made me lose my short temper,
as you brushed aside the steaming ember
to reveal a wrong act, not a wronged person.

Yet, sometimes I feel you encumber me,
restraining my wings as I strive to see
whether the coast is clear. And then, I feel
this epic bond of love protecting me with zeal.

You make me pampered yet not pompous.
You teach me to be proud, yet magnanimous.
You make me lead, yet serve.
You teach me to be bold, yet reserved.
You make me work hard and play hard.

Daddy Dearest, I simply cannot make you see,
how much you have done for me and our family.

So, I am simply going to say,
Daddy, happy birthday.

With lots of love, your daughter Sowmya.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Once Upon A Rhyme

I suddenly unearthed an ancient diary today. I have kept it from when I was ten till thirteen. I was just reading everything and I realised I haven't really changed much. I was always confused, worried about exams, thinking about various things too much, obsessed with Harry Potter, lamenting yet so supremely happy and a die-hard feminist. Just that I didn't know such fancy words existed at that time to describe my character.

To my pleasant surprise, I found the first poem I had ever written. It swept me into this wave of nostalgia. I remember well how it came about. We had poetry recitation in fifth standard and I had learnt a very nature-laden  poem by some Kjmnerva aged 12. It was a poem I had fished from the Internet. I did not remember anything else about it. Over there, I met a friend who recited her own poem. That sounded very fascinating. I used to play around with words but those poems were shorter and less complicated than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". I came third in that competition. I googled for the poem I recited and I found it!

Nature's Wish

What a beautiful place!
Flowers blooming on spring
Trees shake of their leaves on Autumn
Trees by the side are covered with snow in winter

NOW, Look around you - What do you see?
Life's slowly dying. . .Losing its glee
Remember the seeds on earth we plow
They were forgotten they fail to grow

The sweet air around me yesterday turned gray
The sweet smell of the trees in the forest turned
into a bald forest.
The cool blue ocean turned to black

Sometimes it peeks among the trees
Sometimes it whistles sadly
someplace where it is polluted
It is slowly dying . . .

will the next generation still have
sweet air to breathe in?
tall trees to climbup?
or a cool blue ocean to swim on?
No! there is nothing left for the next generation

How dare we all say that we care
when paradise then is now a nightmare
Was that a whisper or a gasp we hear?
Is it a denial for a picture so clear?

- Kjmnerva, age 12

Then, in sixth standard, we were in charge of an English activity to fill up the bulletin boards. As I was head of the group. Now my artistic temperament was brought out by my teacher much later in eighth standard, until then I pretty much was the clumsiest personality to handle glue, scissors and paint. So I racked my brains about what I could do to out-do the others and the answer came to in a brilliant stroke of inspiration.

I would write a poem and take a printout of it. And I also made a plan of how the charts would be, colours and everything and got everyone else to do it. We were supposed to do the work in the double English class. So I tried to remember the poem I had read a year back for inspiration. Back then, I couldn't go on the internet on my own and I felt my father wouldn't allow me to see the poem for this silly reason. It was for the best because my first poem was born.

Nature is a beauty
It provides free of cost our needs,
But we fail to do our duty,
And do more bad deeds.

We cut down the trees,
the producers of life
Those who gracefully dance when blows the breeze
Thus we are more cruel than a knife.

With that weapon, we kill animals
For sport and recreation.
Are we bloodthirsty cannibals
To destroy God's creation?

Today the air was gray.
All through the day.
People seem to have enough on their tray
To care about the air being gray.

Fishes jumped out of the sea,
Death seemed better
Than to see the sea
Far worse than better.

One day we will pay
for all of this injustice
'cause our future generations will say
We were greedy for bliss.

Our nature satisfies our need
alone not our never-ceasing greed.

It's a bit weird but am proud of it. I capitalised regardless of necessity. My teacher told me that "when blows the breeze" is syntactically wrong but it can be accepted in poetry and is known as the poetic license. I was happy. It was a grand success. Similarly I read a poem about the fear of exams in Children's world Magazine that was so reflective of my own situation then, that I entered into another venture.

The Hindu

Exams are near,
I tremble with fear.
I'll die of thirst,
trying to come first.

Math tires me out,
so much that I could shout.
History is so boring,
That you could hear me snoring.

Geography has got funny names,
and at that I am so lame.
Civics is all about administration,
which squeezes out my perspiration.

Physics is all about matter,
Trying to learn it I break into tatters.
Chemistry is all about mixtures,
Learning it is worse than boring lectures.

Biology is so icky(?)
That it makes me sicky(???)
Computers are full of programs,
so much that it gives me the cramps.

Hindi is such a git.
I cannot bear it.
Tamil is so confusing,
that I wouldn't mind accusing.

Even English scares me,
Its the questions you see.
Finally, I've lost my confidence
because of my Exam's dominance.

All the subjects that appeared 
interesting, seems to have disappeared.
What should I do?
I feel like I am trapped in a zoo.

I've been laughing so HARD over this. I really was at a loss for words then. Also, my sense of exaggeration was astronomical! Of course, now I can brush of saying it is a poetic device, hyperbole. But the poem that really initiated my journey into poetry. It's the last entry, dated 16 Apr 2005. It's spontaneous and it didn't borrow ideas from anywhere like I did before. I had been both praised and scolded that day. Even if one of those things happened, I'd be befuddled. Both together was the perfect outburst of emotion.

On 27th September
in the year 2004.
I began to remember,
How life was before
being thirteen. Wasn't it great?
But you can't do anything,
It is just your fate.
No one feels like singing.
Every loss pricks you.
But every joy does
make you a conceited view.
Everyone feels you're making a fuss,
But that's not true.
It's like being 2 people.
You know that, don't you?
It's like being a cripple,
Having 2 legs but cannot
control it to walk properly.
Then, the pain tells you 'Better quit'
What a bummer!
In the end
I'll tell this,
If you're a teen around the bend,
Watch out, you may hear a hiss.

None of these poems are titled. They are all there as drafts and bits and pieces. The last one alone is a part of an entry. It felt good to see where it all started. 

It made me see the beginning of 'The Road Not Taken'.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Angry Birds

I've been shooting up a lot of nasty green pigs on my computer thanks to Angry Birds. I don't think it needs an introduction. I should have just stuck to routinely shooting those birds at them right? I should put my brains aside, right?

Ya exactly. Not happening.

Come on! The bird actually traces a parabola on my screen and you expect me to ignore the physics staring at me. Of course not!

So when am playing the game, I'm thinking so I want it to go so far, so I need it around 45 degrees or I need it to go so high, so I'll take a larger angle (with an imaginary horizontal axis).

 d = \frac {v^2} {g} \sin \left(2 \theta\right)

Then, the maximum range is when sin 2(theta) is one or when 2(theta) is 90 degrees or when theta is 45 degrees for the same speed.

The physics engine for this game was provided by an open source software Box2D. Its a very non fanciful software but its behind this game's rage that's sweeping the globe (Sorry! swept the globe already!)

Then there are so many other scintillating physics phenomenon in the game.

A typical example of an exploding projectile.

And just when you decide to label me the official nerd of the century, I suggest the more brave among you venture to this site where the author has used a graphics tracking software to deduce that the red bird is actually 70 cm in height according to some calculations and that there is no air resistance. (I never took air resistance into my head, somehow not that nice a trajectory). 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Should I learn to cook?

"Sowmya you've become quite a big girl now, its about time you learnt how to cook"

"What? She can't even make sambhar! *gasp*  under section infinity , the make-life-hell-for-college-girls-on-holiday clearly states that any Homo Sapien with XX chromosome in the DNA ought to be accomplished in 64 arts! * Kaliyug is surely coming  look* "

My Mind Voice: "Bet you can't write a prim's algorithm program on your own"
Actual voice: "I make Maggi" giving the I-can-live-on-instant-food-all-my-life look.

Seriously, cooking is SUCH a big debate if you're a girl. There are very few girls my age who are as ignorant about the kitchen as I am.

For example, this is a conversation I had with a guy at my house when I was twelve.

Friend: "I hear something sizzling in the kadai"
Me: (Head bent over congruence in triangles) "Maybe popcorn?"
Friend: (stares at complete disbelief much to my blissful ignorance) "Don't you know the difference between a pop and a sizzle?"
Me: "Of course I do. I wasn't paying attention."
Friend: "You said dinner was idly right? I think aunty's making chutney."
Me: "I thought you make chutney with a mixie"
Soon enough that rickety deafening mixie started whirring planting a smug cheshire cat smile on my face. Promptly we came literally to blows about whether or not a kadai is used in making a chutney.

In case there exists a soul who did not predict the ending, I just got mightily jolted by the nattamai (panchayat head) - my mom, that you do, indeed use the kadai.

I  usually just sing my own sweet tune. My mom learnt how to cook only at 21 and I still have two years to go AND she's such an amazing cook that I'm not really convinced I need to learn. However, nowadays the nudges have certainly increased. And my fair Libran twin (And you thought only Gemini had a twin, right?) started badgering my mind to reconsider my stance and strive for that perfect balance.

This dialogue is priceless. If you haven't heard it as a girl, I will be very very surprised. "There is just one thing I want to say - whether you are a boy or a girl, you ought to learn to cook".

I simply don't buy the argument. For one thing, the only times I've seen guys being made to learn to cook is if they are vegetarian and are leaving abroad. Or if they are non-vegetarian with the no-pork no-beef issues and going abroad. I see absolutely no problem with learning how to cook much later.

While I let the steam cool, I've been hinting that I wanted to actually give the other side a ear. After all,

எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய்க் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள்
மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்ப தறிவு.

Gist: Consider everyone's opinions for that nugget of wisdom hidden in it.

Fundamentally, the strong point gently pushing me forward on my culinary journey is the fact that I help my dear mother. One fine Thursday, when she was sick, I put leave, made Maggi for my dad, reminded him about the cellphone, put the geyser, took the milk and newspaper, sent the laundry for iron (You may think this is simple, but from a princess incapable of folding her clothes and woefully forgetful about making her own bed, this is a LOT!) . When he left for office, he was half-amused and half-proud. The best climax was when my mom came out at ten in the morning and said, "Wake up daddy for office".

I was so happy to let her rest and keep things smoothly running for my dad even if I had to miss college. (I unfortunately woke up at seven without my human alarm). My mom was also grateful to have me at home to run little errands. But something kept making me feel guilty. As she wasn't well, she couldn't possibly have Maggi. So she had to get up and make idly for herself. I would have gladly liked to do that for her. This wouldn't have happened if I knew how to cook.

Another reason is, there is one thing, above all, that I cherish. And that is independence. As a woman, independence is a treasure. A treasure guarded by the dragons of self-esteem and skill. And however I twist my kaleidoscope of ideas, cooking is a fundamental portion of the fodder to those dragons.

Well all said and done, next star pupil is going to be the kitchen king. Or queen. I'd be asked to demonstrate my cooking! At every relative's house as well. Because, of course once I learn it, I will be amazing at it. After all, anyone can cook.

That's very right, I just sink to the floor in front of anybody, let alone cook something for someone. Oh dear! 

So we'll dump this silly little thought thread and continue with our work?

No, I don't think so. Come on, I never thought you'd be chicken. So what if I make a fool of myself? I'd rather be helpful and stupid than perfect and dumb. And I think, I would have taken this decision even if I were a boy.

Oh how I hate it when you are right. It would have been so much cooler if I had been a boy and learnt to cook?

That can't be helped. Don't you remember you wouldn't admit to yourself that you actually adored pink but would never buy pink. Just because of your feminism.

Yup. Then we decided true feminism is doing what your heart wants with mental consent and being brave enough to be true to it.


But am not really sure if that's what I want to do. Hmph. I hate being so nice and doing the right thing. 

I'm proud of you.

You seem to have happily made the decision for me. I still don't think it's that necessary. After all mom falling ill is such a rare occurrence.

 I've had it. Here's the verdict.


I will learn to cook.
But only idly, sambhar,chutney,rice and rasam. No more. No less. Its enough to keep me and any sick person happy for now.

Oh and by the way, I've realised that this has given me a new weapon against those mokkai keep-women-in-their-place sort of people.