Archive for the ‘Campus’ Category

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The Road to Taste of India

April 10, 2013

I recently saw Road, Movie and it proved to be a quite an interesting watch. A movie about a mobile cinema being transported through a desolated desert, with just a handful of characters and no song-dance routines – a tough task for a director to keep an audience interested. But a compact and tight script with good actors and a brilliant background score had me engrossed.

There was an very interesting scene in the middle of the movie, where Satish Kaushik brings Abhay Deol and gang to a place in the middle of nowhere, expecting a mela of some sorts to be going on where they could show their movie. Disappointed, Abhay starts venting his frustration, but Satish confidently tells Abhay to setup his cinema. “Cinema hoga toh mela bhi hoga. Khana hoga, paani hoga, log bhi aayenge.” And guess what, thats what happened. The movie of course was a disaster at the box office. No song and dance. Come on. But then, that is not the point I am trying to make.

AID Penn State had its fifteenth annual food festival, The Taste of India on Saturday and as always the event turned out to be a sublime blend of various cultures coming together to make the evening very special. I have been a part of the volunteering team for this event for a few years now, and every time I try to imagine how someone could have conjured up this idea back then, to cook food for over 500 people. That too, Indian food; for the culinary complexities differ depending on which part of the country one comes from. To someone from Gujarat, Kadak would be an evening snack, while to someone like me, it would rather refer to a special kind of tea. I once remember being an audience to a conversation between two friends who were arguing as to how Idilees should be made – both guys were from different states. I ended up  having a sandwich for dinner that night. But I digress.

So to conceive this idea of cooking Indian food – that too vegetarian food in a predominantly meat-eating country – for such a huge gathering and then, expect people to show up for it is like expecting Sachin and Ponting to bat for the same team. Oh wait, isn’t that happening this year in the IPL.

So while this idea was bold and out of the box back in the day, it worked, because it was a good idea. Indian food is tasty, there are no two ways about it. And once a recipe is fixed upon, then the execution is straight forward. Heat oil, throw in cummin seeds, fry the onions, add turmeric powder … you get the gist. And then, when you have a strong student-community bonding to top it off, then to make an idea like this to work is like asking Shahrukh Khan to overact in a scene.

ToI has slowly evolved with time. As students come and go, new logistics are thrown in. Some stick, some are forgotten. But it really is endearing to see a lot of alumni make it a point to come for this event and make it an evening to remember.

Here’s to the hope that ToI gets tastier with every passing year.

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The ODK Story

April 18, 2012

After the debacle of the 2007 Cricket World Cup, I had all but given up cricket. But, later in the year, having arrived at Penn State, I started to miss the game so much that I looked for any and every opportunity to get bat on ball. There were times in class when I thought of asking the professor to bowl a few balls to me.

Having spoken to a few seniors, I learned that there was an eclectic mix of students and faculty members who played at the Orchard Park on weekends. It was great fun to field on the lush outfield and be able to whack the ball without having to worry about it crashing into someone’s window pane. Games were played at leisure, with wise-cracks and quips all part and parcel of the weekly outing in the park. And then the unexpected happened. India won the inaugural T20 World Cup. A sort of cricketing fervor gripped the Desis at Penn State. Every nook and corner had a Desi practicing a Yuvi-to-Broad six or a Shreesanth-to-Hayden ball with palms slapping the ground in jubilation after having the stumps uprooted.

In 2008, when the Penn State Cricket Club (PSCC) decided to organize a Fall tournament, we immediately registered our team. However, contrary to our own over-the-roof expectations, we failed to make it even to the quarter-finals. In 2009, The Orchard Dark Knights (ODK) name was coined but the result remained the same. We ended a miserly 9th rank out of 10 teams. In 2010, our team finally got a grip on the way things were supposed to be. We made it to the Semi-Finals for the first time and gave the eventual winners a tough fight in that game. By 2011, a lot of the original ODK members had retired (graduated) and there was very little chance that we would have enough players to form a team once again. But again, India winning the World Cup in April 2011, instilled a new vigor amongst all of us. So a new team with a new captain was formed; but we stuck to the original name – The Orchard Dark Knights. Starting off strongly in the tournament, our fitness began to tell by the time we reached the Semi-Finals. In a hard fought match, which went down to the last ball, we lost to the eventual champions – The White Tigers.

Come Spring 2012. The ODKs played their opening game against The Falcons. The team seemed determined to make a good start to the tournament and went on to win the game comfortably. The next game for the ODKs was against Bomb Squad. Having been set a stiff target of 95 runs to chase in 15 overs, the ODK were helped by their opponents being understaffed in the fielding department and ran away to a comfortable victory. With 2 wins out of 2, it was time for the ODKs to face their nemesis from the previous year – The White Tigers. Put into bat, the White Tigers started off slowly, but as their confidence grew, so did their run rate. In a high scoring, breath-taking encounter, the White Tigers held their nerves to beat the ODKs by 4 runs. In their final league match, the ODKs then took on the Jager Bombers on a pitch that seemed to have come straight from Bridgetown, Barbados. Uneven bounce and some good bowling kept the ODKs down to a respectable target on a smallish ground. However the ODKs held their catches and made some interesting bowling changes to win the game and ensure a position in the Semi-Finals.

The Semi-Finals was a repeat of the previous year – ODK vs White Tigers. The ODKs started off briskly scoring at more than 8 runs per over during the Power Play. But after having lost a couple of quick wickets, the runs suddenly dried up. Some lofty shots in the last few overs allowed the ODKs to set the White Tigers a target of 120 to get in 15 overs. But the White Tigers were not ones to give up without a fight. They kept chipping away at the target getting an occasional boundary or six on the way. The match again went down to the last over but this time around the ODKs bowled to a plan and denied the White Tigers a victory. The ODKs had finally made it to their first Final.

In the Final, their opponents were the Blue and White Warriors who had yet to lose a match in the tournament and yet to lose more than 2 wickets in an innings. Their openers got the team off to a blazing start hitting fours and sixes at will. The ODKs looked very flat in the field and the toll of having played 5 back-to-back games seemed to be telling on them. At the end of 10 overs, the Blue and White Warriors seemed well set to go past 180 of their 20 overs. But some spirited bowling towards the end overs pulled the run rate down and the ODKs were set a target of 163. The ODKs kept the asking rate within reach throughout their innings and went on to chase the target well within 20 overs.

It has been a fabulous weekend of entertaining cricket. Kudos to the Organizers for having a tab on all the match proceedings and keeping the captains updated about their respective schedules. Here is hoping for many more entertaining tournaments to come.

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Miss Calling

June 12, 2010

It was a hot summer afternoon. Monsoon had yet not set in. Class was going on – Engineering Maths II. Half the class was wondering what the other half was upto and vice versa. Maama, on the other hand, was sitting on the first desk, and trying hard to concentrate. Suddenly, his cell-phone began to ring.

“Dil kabootar khana hai…”

And then Sonu’s voice melted into silence.

Missed call.

Our Math’s professor, Nikam turned around with chalk in hand just like James Bond would have turned with a gun in hand.

“Yes, you. Stand up. Get outch”

“But, Sir…”

“Outch”

Our cat-sound-emanating specialist beckoned towards his call of duty.

“Meow!!!”

Distracted, Nikam turned to where the noise came from.

“Yes…  Anyone  else wants to get outch.”

Silence.

Nikam continued, “Aise hi aate ho aap class mein?”

Andy quipped from one of the back-benches, “Nahi Sir, tiffin leke aate hai.”

The whole class erupted in laughter and giggles.

Amongst the pandemonium, poor Maama was left standing, cursing himself as to why he had not kept his cell on silent.

How I miss those days of missed calls. Pranks played in class like calling up a person who had forgotten to switch his cell-phone off.

Another cell-phone prank that became very common was to switch phone numbers in the contact list of another guy.

Girlfriend’s number – xyz to abc

Girlfriend’s brother’s number – abc to xyz

Not tough to hazard a guess what happened next.

The one prank that yours truly is still remembered for is, while playing the annual department cricket tournament, every guy who won the man of the match award received a message from an unknown number signed “Secret Admirer” saying how wonderful his performance was and whether he would be willing to meet up over coffee.

I evidently found most parts of me bruised once my team-mates found out that I was their “Secret Admirer”.

But there were times when missed calls came really handy too. When you have Rs.2 balance on your pre-paid card and you desperately need to talk to your friend. Time for Mr. missed-call. Or when you need to inform your parents that you reached your friend’s place safely. Missed call.

Well, onto things of the present. World Cup fever has begun. Shakira is singing Waka Waka and K’naan urges all to Wave their Flag.

May the best team win.

And by that I mean Argentina.

P.S: People, do visit the site http://anonymoussmiles.blogspot.com/ A noble cause to spread cheer through handmade postcard greetings.

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Formula One

May 3, 2010

I was reading IndInMan’s blog on ‘Learning’ the other day and I couldn’t help but think that sometimes you just need some wise guy with a philosophical bent of mind to come and tell you the right thing, however much you may not like it.

Bham! In the face. Here is your answer.

And immaturity might come in the way of understanding the true meaning of the words, but sooner or later one understands.

Harsha Bhogale talks about talent and hard-work in this fantastic speech at IIM Ahmedabad where he gives an apt example comparing SRT and Vinod Kambli. Both talented, but today they stand on different pedestals of Indian cricketing history. HB ends the speech with the famous Urdu lines,

Khudi ko kar buland itna, ke har taqdeer sey pehley,
Khuda bande sey poochey, bata teri raza kya hai.


(Raise thyself to such heights, That God Himself may Ask-
What do you wish me to write in your fate ?)

On a lighter note, yesterday I was listening to a recording from Udayan Kanade’s DSP lectures and I was joyfully taken back into that crammed class-room of BMCC. While UK delved into the concepts of convolution and filter kernels, I was enjoying the occasional wise-cracks coming from the class. As the class drew to an end, I recognized a few of the voices discussing the class. These were apna VIT/Vincent’s paltan (P, A of PANGS, WNIB and AT). Sheer nostalgia. Click below for the conversation.

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A few years ago…

March 15, 2009

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Aghaaz

October 1, 2008
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Turning Over a New Leaf

August 27, 2008

Its begun to fall. Well, actually Fall has begun. Suddenly, the campus is bustling with activity and all the rigmaroles of graduate life have begun all over again. While I waited for the ‘Blue Loop’ bus at Downtown, I must have fallen in love at least ten times. The One Above seems to be making them better every year.

The Blue Loop was packed like a can of sardines. I entered cautiously, careful not to step on any pretty toes. But once the bus started, I experienced jolts and jerks akin to those one would encounter at Indigo – the local disc. Ironically, ‘Feel the Vibration’ was blaring from the speakers. Who needs an Indigo when one can ‘do the grind’ on the way to class.