Studying in U.S.  

Posted by Praveen in

Checkout this informative blog-happyschoolsblog-started by Raghu, a friend of mine. It gives you a lot of info on the various universities, various courses offered as well as detailed writeups on GRE, TOEFL and visa issues. Posted this cos I thought it might be useful to many of my friends who are planning to study abroad.
your crusader Praveen

Mudcakes-Will You eat it?  

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Mudcakes-Will You eat it?Today afternoon, I had a heavy lunch. I've this habit of reading newspaper at our reception after lunch. Today's reading session proved to be a shocking as well as a depressing affair. Am talking about a report that I saw in today's paper about the situation in Haiti. There, due to hunger and poverty, people are actually eating mudcakes. Yes, you read it right. Cakes made out of mud. They even have to pay for this mud. After making the mud into small shapes, they dry it. In the evening, the whole family eats it by adding some salt. Its not tasty, its not healthy. Still they are eating it. Just to fill their stomachs. I found this news totally unbelievable. How could anyone even think of surviving by eating mud? It was also disturbing to read having eaten stomach full of food and also having wasted some food. These kind of news make us realise just how fortunate we are. And still we complain.

PS- This deep crisis happened because of some stupid decisions of the government. In the 80's, the Government of Haiti eased import restrictions and this resulted in cheap foreign food products spreading all over the country. Though the customers were happy, the economy started to crumble since the main driving force was agriculture. With the advent of foreign food, their own indigenous products couldn't find any buyers. And with the rise in oil prices and the crumbling economy, the downfall of Haiti was complete. Infact, its one of the worst affected countries in the world.
your crusader Praveen

To forgive and forget  

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Last week's bomb blasts have shook the nation and it is still shaking what with the fear of another attack hanging in the air. Its still not clear who actually did it. At this time, there's one question that arises. Are we giving the deserved punishment to the terrorists whom we catch? The answer is a big NO. Our lenient laws coupled with corrupt politicians with an eye on the vote bank ensure that these hard core criminals live a luxurious life in prison. Debates will go on about what to do with them. One or the other party would object to their execution. And then one fine day, a hostage drama unfolds and the next day the terrorists will be freed.


Its high time we brought in stringent laws atleast to deal with terrorists. They shouldn't be given even a trial at a court. Just hang them as soon as they are caught or just shoot their brains to hell. There's no point in that old idea of Indians forgiving and forgetting. This has gone on for too long. Its time for some serious action.

PS- It was disgusting to watch the opposition parties(which now includes the left also) blaming the government after the blasts. Blaming the ruling party for any petty reason has become a fashion of late. Instead of giving some constructive inputs on what to do at this hour of crisis, they went on with their usual excercise of 'making hay while the sun shines'.

your crusader Praveen

Starving Billionaires  

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I guess most of you must have heard about the inflation rate of 1,70,000 in Zimbabwe. The iconic image of a zimbabwean beggar boy clutching a big heap of zimb dollars been ciculating on the net for a pretty long time. What made me think about this again was that disgusting scene of Indian MPs flashing crores of rupees yesterday in the Lok sabha. If India was having the same inflation rate, to create the same effect as they created yesterday, they would've to bring in truckloads of money inside the parliament. Still they wouldn't be having enough to buy a tomato from the market. For your info, tomato costs 3 million in Zimb. If we go to Zimb now, we can fulfill that dream of living as a billionaire atleast for one day. Remember eurotrip? :D
your crusader Praveen

Rama!Kya hai yeh drama?  

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O Lord! R u hearing this? Last year, the Indian government said there was no one called Lord Rama and so there was no Ramsethu. Karunanidhi even went a level higher and asked whether Rama was a civil engineer to build such a bridge. After such absurd comments, yesterday there was another WTF comment from the attorney representing the Indian Government in this case-'Lord Rama destroyed the Raamsethu himself to prevent the lankans from crossing over to India.' This statement is a clear contradiction of the Government's earlier statement that Rama never existed. How can a man(or God) who never existed build and destroy a bridge? Eventhough, they took back that statement about his existence later, this incident is a clear indicator of how the government is trying to fool the people by distorting history and facts.

The UPA's current renewed interest in the Sethusamudram project is connected with the farcical trust vote that happened two days back. This sudden interest is a favour in return for karunanidhi and his men's votes for the UPA in the trust vote. Just like Shibhu Soren being escorted straight from his prison cell to the ministerial palace. Shame on you filthy politicians. You are India's cancer.
checkout the post I wrote last year about Sethusamudram and Ramasethu
your crusader Praveen

Pranav's Poems  

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Stumbled upon Harimohan's blog today. He has posted a collection of poems written by his 8 year old newphew Pranav,who's battling brain tumour. Its written in chronological order from the time he was diagnosed with this disease. They are simple short poems but it hits right at the centre of your heart. And, this coming from an 8 year old is no mean achievement. This deserves to be published as a book. Spare some of your time and read through it all. Worth it.

your crusader Praveen

World's oldest blogger  

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Its a sad day for bloggers worldwide as the grandma of blogging breathed her last at the age of 108. She's been blogging for more than an year now. She moved to blogger recently. A retired journalist Eric Shackle was helping her in posting her writings to blogosphere. Am still wondering how she could make such clear thought process at this age. May her soul rest in peace.
your crusader Praveen

Rock On!!!  

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Bought the soundtrack of 'Rock On' and been listening to it for the past 3 days. Totally rocking and refreshing. A whiff of fresh air among the mushy romantic (blatantly lifted) tunes and remixed crap. The film is about a rock band being formed in India and the soundtrack fits the theme to a T. The trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deserves a warm round of applause. After the touching and inspiring score for 'Taare Zameen Par', they have broken new ground with 'Rock On'. It surprised me when I saw Farhan Akhthar's name in the singing credits of more than 5 songs in this album. And he has doen a good job with it too. Am still finding it hard to pick a clear favorite from this album. From the thumping title song to 'Sindbad the sailor', the songs oozes attitude. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy has cemented their place as the second best among the current lot of music composers in bollywood. First, of course, is A.R.Rahman. This soundtrack is sure to take the country by storm. Hope the film matches it.

your crusader Praveen

Iran and starless ADs  

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Listen all you AD gurus and AD superstars. Train your ears to what is happening in Iran. The government there has banned sportspersons and film stars from acting in ADs. The reason given is that ADs promote consumerism in soceity. Just think what will happen if this rule is implemented in our India. Cricketers and actors will be crying hoarse. Among the filmstars, Shahrukh will be the one who is going to be affected the most. As AD hungry he is, he's starring in commercials ranging from cars to ladies' bath soap. We'll be back to watching those famous ADs from the good old doordarshan days-a la "Vicco turmeric, nahi cosmetic...vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream" or the unbearably dull ADs by government agencies-remember the ones about tax payment or tha famous mala D ads? Also we could get more ADs like the Hutch pug or the airtel 'expressions' AD. The AD gurus will be forced to put their creative hats to use as they have to make an impresson without the help of stars. The quality of advertisements will go up once the stars are out of it. Have you ever noticed that the ADs starring the stars are mostly done to project the star and doesn't warm your heart like the raymond ADs starring unknowns or the Hutch ad starring the pug? Hope to see more such ADs coming out from Iran in the near future.

your crusader Praveen

G8-filling bellies and draining stomachs  

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Saw a report today in the newspaper that the G-8 summit which was convened in Japan to discuss on the problems of food scarcity and poverty all over the world was noted more for its sumptuous feasts than for any strategic decisions. There were 19 dishes in an 8 course lunch to fill the big bellies of the world leaders. This report was disgusting to say the least. They should've atleast understood the seriousness of the situation. Some kind of model behaviour was expected from these guys. They should've refrained from eating heavily as a show of compassion for the poor souls who don't get to eat good food even once in a week.

Now we know where this summit will head to. Obviously, it will head to the direction in which these guy's pot bellies are pointing. Hungry will remain hungry. Small bellies will become pot bellies.

Happy Birthday Crusader!!!  

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Its been 3 long years since crusader's birth in blogosphere. And as usual, I forgot another important birthday. This blog turned 3 on 5th July 2008. But being bad at remembering important dates, I forgot this one too. But am happy that my poor blog can't open its mouth and scold me. This year is slightly different from the previous because I started working. In college, I was free all the time and do whatever I wanted. But after I joined work, I had to sit in the office from 9 to 5. But I still found enough time toblog from office. Infact the frequency of my blogs increased after I started working. Coupled with this, I started blogging in my company intranet and am already 43 posts old there. In addition to all this, I started a new malayalam blog. So, altogether this year been a good year for my blogging career. As always, millions of thanks to all those who supported and abused me. Hoping for your continued support in the future also.

your crusader Praveen

Pick this flick 2-Shawshank Redemption  

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"Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And a good thing never dies".

It happened about 4 years back, when I was browsing through the DVD collection at the local video renting shop close to my home, a distinct looking cover caught my attention. It carried the image of a man with his hands outstretched in the rain, presenting a picture of some glorious achievement. The quote which I mentioned at the start, accompanied the image. The movie's name was "Shawshank Redemption". I still remember that night, it was about half an hour past 2 when the movie ended, I sat there with a warm heart, like never before and my mind was brimming with some positive energy, the kind of energy which can even make you climb mount everest(Too bad, I didn't set off for the mount that night itself). And it was on that night that the way I looked at movies changed completely.

Shawshank is the pinnacle of moviemaking. If ever every aspect of a movie can come good all in a single movie, it happened here. Be it the heart warming story by Stephen King or the taut screenplay and direction from Frank Darabont or the mind blowing acting by Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins and company, you've got it all here. Added to all this is Morgan Freeman's legendary narration skills in his deep barritone voice. Andy Dufresne(Tim Robbins) arrives in Shawshank prison convicted of murdering his wife and her boyfriend. He has to serve a double life sentence. The prison is notorious for its corrupt and cruel wardens, inmates who are hardened criminals and most of all for the hell-like prison life. Morgan Freeman plays 'Red', who has already served 20 years for a murder charge. He's the one who smuggles and supplies essential commodities to everyone in the prison. He'll smuggle you anything from a toothbrush to Rita Hayworth. The two of them develop a great friendship.
Dufresne becomes a favourite with the guards by providing them sound financial advice. There's a scene in which he gets a bottle of beer for all his friends in return for a financial advice to the warden. The way he sits in a corner and watches his friends enjoying the beer in the shining sun, like free men, is unforgettable. Not to forget that iconic scene of Dufresne standing with his arms outstretched after wading through "200 yards of pure shit". The script is full of dialogues which are worth pasting on your walls as daily inspiration. There's this scene where Dufresne wins a grant to buy new books for the prison library after years of non-stop requests to the higher authorities. After he receives the grant and the books, he smiles and says "Thank God, it took only 6 years". Now, that can be called 'the heights of positive thinking'.

IMDB rates it #2 in the list of top 250 movies of alltime, just behind the one and only Godfather. I would dare to rate it as the undisputed #1 in my own personal list. For me, no movie hence or before was able to match up with this ultimate cinematic experience.

PS- One of my favorite characters from the movie is that of the old man Brooks, who has spent most of his life in prison. He maintains the prison library and delivers books to the inmates. He carries a crow in his pocket whom he affectionately calls Jake. He's so used to the life in prison that on the day of his release, he tries to kill a fellow prison mate so that they will put him back to prison. When he gets out, he finds it hard to cope with the changes that have taken place in the world and atlast he ends his life. 2 years back, when I wrote the first song for our band, I came up with a story similar to this. At the time of writing the song, I never thought about this movie. But recently when my friend asked whether this movie was the inspiration for that song, it struck me. This particular part of the movie was somewhere at the back of my mind when I wrote that song because it was so strikingly similar.

your crusader Praveen

Page 3  

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These days, if you take a newspaper in the morning and start turning the pages, every page looks like page 3. There are volumes written on glitzy parties thrown by wealthy wannabe celebrties. There are snaps oozing with glamour of mostly unknown people with random names like John, Jack, Rahul, Arshad, Jenny, Vidya etc etc. There are also some celebrity pics thrown in. I've always wondered who these people actually are? Because, these are not people you usually see in the news nor are they known public figures. But, these people's snaps are there on page 3 with their names given underneath as if they are well known people. I was thinking may be am not so informed on the glitzy party world. Then it happened. Recently, I saw the pic of a gal whom I know in page 3 of Bangalore times. Thats when I understood, you need not be a celebrity to be in those pages but you just need to have a fat pocket...Just think to what depths journalism has slumped.
your crusader Praveen