Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Top Ten Tweople from Kerala

The twitter, free social networking and microblogging site is spreading like wildfire all over the world including India. India is in the top 5 countries by sheer number of twitter users, behind US, UK, Canada and Australia.Mumbai ranks 31 out of top 50 tweeting world cities. There are hell lots of people from Kerala who tweet. Here is a list of top 10 tweople (people who tweet) I compiled who hails from Kerala. I compiled this list based on the number of followers and the number of tweets they have done so far. The number of followers is the measure of how others value your presence in twitter and the number of tweets is the measure of how active you are in twitter. I am sure I may have missed some one who may be more active. In case you know of someone who is more active than the tweople in this list please let me know.

1 - Shashi Tharoor @shashitharoor

Following - 7

Followers - 19010

Tweets - 729

Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs is the tweople with maximum number of followers in India. Right now he has over 19,000 followers. Tharoor has made it a point to tweet almost daily and his tweets provide insight to the day to day life of a politician/minister.

2 - K Sudhakaran @ksudhakaranMP

Following 3

Followers 818

Tweets 513

Another politician from Kerala in twitter, K Sudhakaran needs no introduction to the people of Kerala. For the communist part he is an evil while for the congress party he is a darling for his courageous fight against communist party in its own den. He is so active in Twitter that he replies to all the tweets addressed to him.

3 - Mani Karthik @ManiKarthik

Following 11714

Followers 13314

Tweets 8223

Mani Karthik with the number of followers, following and tweets should be the super star of all the tweople from Kerala. He takes time to interact with almost every one following him. This is what Mani Karthik tells about himself “ SEO, Pro Blogger, Social Mediaholic. Quit my day job 4yrs back to pursue blogging as a career. Living the dream now.” He blogs at DailySEOBlog and it is one of the blogs I visit daily. Every time I visit that blog I learn something new.

4 - Binny V A @binnyva

Following 1990

Followers 2109

Tweets 5340

Another very active tweople in twitter to follow. Binny is a freelance web developer on the LAMP Platform (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP). He maintains too many blogs/sites and you can see this page that has a summary of all his blogs/sites.

5 - Arun Basil Lal @arunbasillal

Following 4143

Followers 3925

Tweets 8283

This is what Arun has to tell about himself “ProBlogger in the Making. Virtually Married to @MillionClues. Trying to Live the Dream. Always More-Than-Happie-2-Help (~_^)

6 - Nikhil Narayanan @nikhilnarayanan

Following 902

Followers 1285

Tweets 5866

A blogger for the over six years, Nikhil is very active in twitter also. He blogs at Nikhil’s Musings and his blog posts and tweets are always a treat to read.

7 - Kenney Jacob @kenneyjacob

Following 1195

Followers 1422

Tweets 5011

Serial Entrepreneur, Twitter addict, BarCamper – this is what Kenney has to say about himself. Very active blogger, Kenney is a well known figure across Kerala in the blogsphere.

8 - Jay @crucifire

Following 472

Followers 874

Tweets 13,385

This is what his bio in twitter account ++ MetalHead + QuizFreak + TechoManiac + Satirist + Rebel + Intellectual + Spiritual-Seeker + Crazy + Complex Microorganism + Scorpio + Mallu ++”. I have nothing to add to that.

9 - Leo Mavely @startonomics

Following 398

Followers 942

Tweets 5098

Entrepreneur - Biomed / Basketball fanatic / Movie buff / Dreamer / Foodie”, he blogs at Startonomics

10 - Anand Subramanian @TheAnand

Following 194

Followers 777

Tweets 3963

May be the youngest in this group, an active blogger who is an internet niche marketer and Social Media Enthusiast “bent on living life than just exist!

If you know of some other tweople that should have been in this list please mention their twitter account as a comment below.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

A to Z of Graduate Study in US

International students who come here for graduate studies find themselves in a totally different environment than they are used to back in their home country. Here is a comprehensive list of what you need to know when you come for graduate studies in US.
Assignment: Once a semester starts, a graduate student shall be doing at least one assignment a week. Most of the assignments may not be that easy as your undergraduate assignments back in your home country. Again if one starts working on it just the day before the submission, one may not finish it in time. For most of the courses, assignment plays a big role in the overall grades.
Bike: Bike or the bicycle is most probably going to be your mode of transportation during your study days in US. It is the cheapest and the fastest vehicle available for a graduate student to go from one point to another.
Credit Card: Your best friend in times of economic stress during your graduate studies. At least once during your studies you may be forced to use the credit card. Always remember one thing – if you don’t use it wisely it would land you in trouble forever.
Dollar: The scarce commodity in the hand of a graduate student. Always try to make both ends meet with whatever you have.
Exams: An integral part of the courses you take. Professors will be testing your practical knowledge rather than your theoretical knowledge as you are used to India. Initially you may find it tough but within few weeks you will get used to the system.
Fast Food: At least once in a week you shall be eating from either Burger King or Taco Bell or McDonalds – the reasons – you are too lazy to cook or you don’t have time to go home for lunch; whatever be the reasons the result of eating from these fast foods will show up on your body in a year or so as you start gaining lots of weight.
Google: Your life as a graduate student revolves around Google. Google has answers for many of your problems J
Hourly Job: The first thing a graduate student starts looking for once he/she lands in US – some are lucky to get an hourly job that can pay for the day to day expenses.
Internship: Getting an internship is the dream of any gradate student. In addition to a good pay, an internship offers real time experience that will be very helpful in the job search after your graduation.
Jobless: When you come to do your graduate studies be prepared for the worst case – not getting any job during the extended period of your studies. The key here is not to loose hope and keep searching.
Kitchen: Never ever cooked in your life time? OK, things are about to change. You will be cooking food on your own or else you cannot survive on the money you make as a student.
Laundry: You wash your own clothes in the laundry machines in the apartment. It might be a new experience for a few.
Manage: Very important factor to succeed. You may have to do so many things (study, hourly job, cooking etc) at the same time and one has to be a good “manager” to succeed in all those.
Night Out: You may have experiences of “Night Out” during your undergraduate studies. But now be prepared for many more “Night Outs” especially during the last few days of the semester.
OPT: OPT or Optional Practical Training is the work permit with which you can work without a visa for a year for all graduates and for 29 months for some graduates (graduates of STEM). OPT process has become complex over years and you will be talking a lot about it starting few months before your graduation.
Party: Graduate study is not all about studies, it is also about parties. Friday and Saturday nights are meant for partying and you are going to have a lot of fun during these parties.
Quality: Whatever it be – studies, hourly jobs or exams or assignments it is the quality of the work that matters. Always strive to produce quality work and rest assured that you will be coming out with flying colors.
Room Mates: Don’t even think of staying in an apartment on your own when you come here for graduate studies. You may have to share a room with one or two or three others depending on the location of the school and your financial conditions.
Soda: You start drinking soda more than water. In some shops it is cheaper than buying drinking water.
Travel: Spring and summer break (total of 4 months) are for travel. You have lots of places to visit in the US and this is the right time to go. A nice way to spend time away from school and studies.
USCIS: US Citizen and Immigration Services or USCIS is the agency where you need to send all your documents for processing your visa and other immigration papers. You will be hearing a lot about this during your study days in US.
Visa: You will be force to think/talk about this almost every day you are in US. The F1 visa status places a lot of restrictions on students and you will be reminded of your visa status during your entire stay in US.
Walmart: One stop shop for all your shopping needs. You get almost all the stuff you need and more importantly at a very low price.
Yardstick: You should be keeping a yardstick for yourself all through your studies and see that you achieve those yardsticks. If you cannot, you should look back and see why you could not meet them.
Zest: The most important thing – the zest or enthusiasm to accept the challenges you face during the graduate studies and zest to overcome it. If you have that zeal everything else will fall in place.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Constructing 20 kms of Road A Day - A Great Plan by Kamal Nath

The Indian Union Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath has the most ambitious plan among all the Union Ministers - construct 20 kms of new roads a day for the next five years. In another words construct 7000 kms of road every year. A very ambitious plan, but if this materializes, it will change the face of our country, India.

Kamal Nath did a great job as the Commerce Minister in previous UPA Government. If Kamal Nath could repeat his performance in Surface Transport Ministry, India will be one step closer to becoming a developed country with well connected, modern and extensive road network.

Best of Luck Mr Kamal Nath. Make it Happen!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When You are Hungry......

I always make it a point never to waste any food. Now after seeing this heart breaking video even if I want to waste any food, I will never do it. In February 2006, at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival, Filmmakers were invited to join a Short Film Competition on the Theme: FOOD, TASTE and HUNGER. Three thousand six hundred filmmakers from around the world, joined the competition, but only 32 films were chosen to be screened at the Berlinale Talent Campus. This film named "Chicken la Carte" topped the competition by being adjudged the Most Popular Short Film.This film based on a true story was directed by Ferdnand Dimadura and was shot in Philippines. I was shell shocked for few minutes after seeing this one. Videos like this shows us again and again how blessed we are.

So next time when you think about wasting food remember those kids you see in the video and you will never waste any food! GOD help those children. How long can we ignore these voices of hunger?

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ten Must Watch Movies of Mohanlal

Every time I see the movies of Mohanlal he amazed me again and again. Other than Kamalhassan I have never seen such a versatile actor. Mohanlal’s acting career spanning over 30 years now has given the Indian cinema some memorable performances- performances one and only Mohanlal can enact. Through his acting, he has become the darling of the people of Kerala. Here is a collection of ten of his best movies and if you have seen these movies you have blessed to see some divine acting by one and only Mohanlal.
1 - Vanaprastham by Shaji N Karun
This movie of Mohanlal will be first in my list of the must watch movies of him. Kathakali is an art form of Kerala that requires years and years of practice to master it. Here in this movie Mohanlal performs the role of a Kathakali artist Kunhikuttan and he performs Kathakali even better than the seasoned folks with no previous experience. He won the National and State Award for the Best Actor for this movie. Here is the clip from the movie. Simply superb

2 - Thanmatra by Blessy
This film portrays Rameshan Nair (enacted to greatness by Mohanlal) who gets affected by Alzheimer’s disease and changes that bring to his life and family due to that disease. This beautiful movie directed by one of the most promising director of the present generation Blessy swept the state awards for the year 2005. Mohanlal won the State Award for the best actor for this movie.
3 - Kireedom by Sibi Malayil
The trio of Mohanlal-Lohithadas- Sibi Malayil has given a lot of super hits and this movie will come in the top of that list. Kireedom narrates the story of Sethumadhavan, whose fate was to be typecast as a rowdy by the villagers. He won the National Award for the best actor in 1989 for this movie. Priyadarshan remade this movie into Hindi (Gardish) and later 18 years this movie was remade in Tamil with the same name with Ajith as hero.
4 - Chitram by Priyadarshan
This movie is one of the greatest hits of all time in Malayalam. Mohanlal portrays the role of a husband who is hired to do that role for a fortnight. The ease at which Mohanlal does comedy scenes in this movie made him the darling of the masses.
5 - Devasuram by I V Sasi
Another great movie of Mohanlal - the rivalry between Mangalasherry Neelakantan (Mohanlal) and Mundakkal Shekaran (Napolean) is the main theme of the movie. Nothing new in the story line but the main attraction of this movie was the great acting by Mohanlal.
6 - T.P Balagopalan M.A by Satyan Anthikad
Mohanlal won his first state award in 1986 for best actor for portraying the role of an educated youth who is trying hard to make both ends meet.

7 - Bharatham by Sibi Malayil
Another movie from Mohanlal-Lohithadas-Sibi Malayil that fetched Mohanlal the national award for the best actor. This movie has some great songs with classical touch composed by late Raveendran.

8 - Nadodikattu by Santyan Anthikad
One of the many hits of Satyan Anthikad-Mohanlal-Sreenivasan team. This movie narrates the story of Dasan (Mohanlal) and Vijayan (Sreenivasan) who were fooled by an agent and land in Chennai instead of Dubai. This movie has become such a hit that two more sequel of it has already hit the theatres and they are working on the fourth sequel of this movie. Here is the scene from the movie. Enjoy!
9 - Vellanakalude Nadu by Priyadarshan
Another movie directed by Priyadarshan is a satire that shows the difficulties faced by a Contractor. In this movie Mohanlal enacts the role of Contractor who had to face one trouble after another and Mohanlal has done this role to perfection.
10 - Varavelppu by Satyan Anthikad
This movie depicts the trade union problems that is prevalent in Kerala and was a huge hit. Mohanlal plays the role of a gulf returnee who buys a bus to make a living and how he was forced to run from pillar to post to keep his bus from running. Finally the movie ends with Mohanlal going back to Middle East losing everything he had. A great movie by the team Satyan Anthikad-Sreenivasan-Mohanlal.

It is tough to pick the top ten movies for an actor like Mohanlal There are other movies where Mohanlal’s performance was great like Padamudra, Ulsavapittennu, Thoovanathumbikal, Namukkuparkkan Monthirithoppukal, Paradesi, Sanmanasullavarkku Samadhanam - to name few. But the above ten movies should give one an idea of the great versatility of this actor.
Another example of versatility of Mohanlal. See the scene from the same movie taken in three different language – Manichitrathazhu in Malayalam, Chandramuki in Tamil and Bhool Bhulaiya in Hindi. See these scenes and judge yourself why Mohanlal is one of the greatest actor on Indian cineama.
Mohanlal to me is what Sachin Tendulkar is for cricket. Both are the best in their field. 

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Looking back these Eight Years in US - What A Change!

In another week it will be eight
years since I landed in the US for higher studies. When I look back one of the things that strike me most is the changes in the technology that has occurred in the last eight years. If we compare present day technology to the technologies we used then, in 2001, definitely will belong to the stone age.

In 2001 a laptop was a luxury. I haven't seen a laptop with any of the professors in my school in 2001. The laptop was damn expensive that students like us cannot even dream of owning one. The storage devices we had were the floppy disk and a zip drive. The maximum storage space available in our school email was 1 MB and if I remember correctly it was 2 MB storage space in yahoo mail and 1 MB in hotmail. Professors and students used the floppy drive and zip drive. I was asking my wife the other day who joined the same school 4 years after me if she is familiar with zip drive and she has never heard of it. Such is the change in technology - a device that was used by every one in 2001 become extinct in 2005!

In our school we have the computing center where the students can use the computers for lab work and assignments. There were hundreds of computers but in those days we always had to stand in the queue to get a system. Even if you go past midnight you would have a wait time. Last semester I went to the same place with my wife during the peak of the semester. Hardly there was anyone in the computer center. The reason - Now every one has a laptop and throughout the length and breadth of the school we have now wireless internet connection. Students sitting below a palm tree with their laptop and browsing is a common sight now - a sight that we could never imagine in 2001.

The prices of electronics has fallen so much in the last eight years. I remember the time when a 128 MB flash drive was the hottest product on sale for thanksgiving for over $30. Now a 128 MB flash drive is not even in the market.The other day my wife was telling me that a 1 Tera Byte (TB) hard drive is $90 in CompUSA! Five of us who shared an apartment in 2001 bought a desktop together. It cost us over $500 and it had 128 MB RAM and 512 MB hard disk space. Now if you are ready to pay $500 you could get the best desktop available.

Now online classes - There was no such concept like that in 2001. Some of the classes were recorded and if students wanted to see it, they could have to rent the VHS tape of it for few days from the library. They have to watch it using a VCR/VCP and give it back to the library. VCR and VHS tapes have become a thing of the past. Now almost all the classes are available online and you can login from any part of the world and watch it. Even the exams for most of the classes have become online. My wife during her entire MS studies never took an exam with a paper and pen but took only online exams.

In 2001, even in US a cell phone was a luxury. Not only could the graduate students ever afford to buy a cell phone but also the same was the case with most of the better off people. Now on the campus, I don't think I can find a student who does not have a cell phone.

Looking eight years back if I feel it was stone age as far as the use of technology is concerned, will I have to say the same thing about the year 2009 in 2017? Most Probably, Yes...

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Monday, July 13, 2009

VS Achuthananthan out of Polit Bureau - caught Prakash Karat bowled Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthananthan, second senior most Polit Bureau member of CPI(M) was dropped from Polit Bureau the other day. The CPI(M) having the long history of doing “historic blunders” have just done another “historic blunder” by trying to solve a chronic illness with cosmetic changes. Here is a brief description of what happened in Kerala on the day VS was dropped from Polit Bureau.

Pinarayi Vijayan, the CPI(M) state secretary with the strong support of General Secretary of the Party Prakash Karat, could overcome the resistance of few Polit Bureau members to put an end to long innings of VS in Polit Bureau.

The Kerala Chief Minister’s reaction to the disciplinary action by the party – Will we obey the party line or is it a lull before the storm? Time can only give an answer to this question.

The decision of the CPI(M) to remove VS from Polit Bureau saw protest marches from supporters of VS in all districts of Kerala.

Here is the reaction of opposition leaders M V Raghavan, Ramesh Chenithala, Vayalar Ravi and Omman Chandy to the decision of CPI (M) to oust VS from Polit Bureau.

This is definitely not going to be the end of the CPI(M) faction fights. The coming days are going to be very colorful. The real losers in this fight will be no doubt the common man of Kerala who voted LDF and CPI(M) to power.

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