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Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar" journal:

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May 23rd, 2016
09:10 pm

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Aya of Yop City
I liked the Aya series of graphic novels scripted by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie. Originally published in French as a series of six graphic novels, Aya is translated to English and published as two books, titled Aya - Life in Yop City and Aya - Love in Yop City. Set in the 1970s at Yopougon, a suburb of Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast, the novel brings out a handful of colorful characters and their adventures in life in a very engaging and humorous way, and through them we get a glimpse of life in the African city. The illustrations are simply brilliant.

During my school days, I used to collect postal stamps as a hobby, and one day my father handed over his old collection of stamps (which I had been eying for a while) that was kept in our wooden almirah to me. In this collection, there was a stamp with the picture of a fort, with "Fort De Dabou" and "Republique de Côte d'Ivoire" written on it. I couldn't figure out which country this stamp is from. Today it would have been just a matter of clicking a few keys to figure this out, but those days I had to spend many days asking around to my stamp-collecting friends, searching the "Manorama Year Book" and some other Malayalam "encyclopedia" I had at home, etc. After all this, I could only make a guess that the "Ivoire" could probably be associated with "Ivory Coast" but was not able to confirm this. So, the stamp retained an aura of mystery, and it was one of my most treasured possessions those days since none of my friends had a stamp from this strange country. While reading Aya, I remembered those days, and thought of that poor old stamp which is now resting in one of the pages of my stamp albums at Kerala, not having seen daylight for a long long time. Probably it will be handed over to my son if he starts stamp collection at some point of time, but he will miss the excitement of unraveling the identity of this "Republique de Côte d'Ivoire".

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May 16th, 2016
03:30 pm

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Connecting Everything..
My 5 year old ancient mobile phone grabs attention of people whenever I display it publicly, because of its antiquity. The phone still does its job, and I do not want to buy a new one until it stops working. But people in general "upgrade" their phones every year so I am getting the tag of a miser :)

We want to bring more and more advanced technological equipments to the world to "connect" every piece of brick to the network, attach sensors everywhere and fill every corner with wireless media access points to improve the convenience and "cool factor" of life, and also do many other great things related to a wide spectrum of areas like health care, energy management, environmental monitoring, etc. The corporates and vendors of various equipments make money and a portion of it is spent on CSR activities related to sustainable development and environmental aspects, and all feel happy and proud. But, where do all these old phones, sensors and other electronic gadgets go? Are these disposed properly? It would be a stupid question to ask in India, as everyone knows the answer.

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May 15th, 2016
04:37 pm

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24
Watched Tamil film 24 starring Suriya - A fantasy-masala film in which we see a scientist "inventing" a sophisticated watch that can be used for time-travel, freezing time, etc. The scientist's lab constitutes various glass bottles and pipes through which colorful liquids are passed and mixed as part of the development process of this time travel equipment, and in case the machine lacks the functionality to jump over 24 hours, it can easily be enhanced to support this by adding a couple of extra dials - just a matter of an overnight effort by a watch mechanic who need not have such "advanced scientific background" and chemistry lab equipments handy. The colorful film was great fun to watch, and was entertaining.

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May 14th, 2016
12:51 pm

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Santhapthan
It looks like the works of Kannada author Srikrishna Alanahalli are equally or more popular in Malayalam than in Kannada. Malayalam Translations of his three Kannada novels, Kaadu, Pavathan and Bhujangayyante Dashavatharangal were serialized in Mathrubhumi weekly way back in the 1980s, and they continue to be reprinted in book format by DC Books even today. More than two Decades after the untimely death of the author, DC Books has brought out a short book named Santhapthan, collecting four short stories by the author, translated by AVM Narayanan, who had translated his novels earlier.

The four stories deal with human relationships, dilemmas, confusions - set in typical premises of Alanahalli's novels, and all these have a common characteristic that they don't tell a tale in conventional way with a conclusion, but narrate a particular situation or events and stop it in an open-ended way. While these stories are not related and they deal with different characters, we get a feeling that they are somehow connected - For eg., the last story, Shravanam, looks like a slightly modified version of the first story, Santhapthan (which ends abruptly), told from a different perspective and time line.

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May 13th, 2016
09:17 am

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Maheshinte Prathikaram
I liked Maheshinte Prathikaram, a very promising debut from director Dileesh Pothan, which tells a simple story set in a village of Idukki. Filled with subtle and gentle humor, it was actually the most enjoyable Malayalam film that I watched in recent times.

Other than Fahadh Faasil and a few others (who all excel in their roles), most of the characters were played by new actors, and they were amazing in their roles as well.

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May 8th, 2016
07:58 pm

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Autobiography of Dr Umadathan
Oru Police Surgeonte Ormakkurippukal is the autobiography of Dr Umadathan, who had served in various Government positions including that of the Head of Department and Principal at different Government medical colleges, Medico-Legal Expert and consultant for Kerala Police, and as the Director of Medical Education of Kerala state. He also served as the Medico-Legal consultant of the Libyan Government for a brief period during the 1980s.

In his memoirs, Dr Umadathan narrates the various criminal investigations he had participated in, in most of which his forensic analysis, scientific observations and intuition had lead to key breakthroughs. The Sukumarakkuruppu case, Panoor Soman murder case and Polakkulam case are among a few that are described in detail in this book. For people who like reading detective fiction, the cases described in the book can make a very intriguing reading, and the deduction procedures by the investigation teams in these cases are really very impressive.

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May 6th, 2016
08:53 am

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A few Malayalam Movies
I watched a few Malayalam movies last week.

I had immensely enjoyed the Akkarakkazhchakal television serial that used come on Kairali television channel a few years back, which depicted the life of a group of Malayalees living in the USA in a humorous way. Monsoon Mangoes is a feature film directed by Abi Varghese, director of Akkarakkazhchakal. Set in the USA, the film tells a "feel-good-inspirational" story of DP Pallikkal (Fahadh Faasil), an aspiring "art" film director, who attempts to make a Malayalam movie starring Prem Kumar (Vijay Raaz, who is a brilliant fit for the role), an aging alcoholic who had acted in one Hindi movie several decades back. The narrative style is fresh, with a touch of humor, and there are many interesting sequences in this watchable film.

Hello Namaste is a simple comedy with some scenes reminding of television serials. What I liked in the film were some very funny dialogues filled with subtle humor (though they would make sense only for people familiar with the social-cultural context of Kerala today). For example, one guy comments in a scene that of late he is having to do some work everyday, and is getting a doubt whether he himself is a Bengali or a Malayali! In another scene, a politician spontaneously invents a tale of corruption, just to save his reputation :) Actor Soubin, who has made his presence felt in many movies recently with his unique style of acting, is hilarious in this film as well.

Valia Chirakulla Pakshikal, directed by Dr Biju, is based on the Endosulfan Disaster at Kasaragod. Though it can't be called or judged as a feature film, Valia Chirakulla Pakshikal creates awareness of the tragedy, and the initial scenes of the film showing the central character (played by Kunchacko Boban) interviewing and photographing the endosulfan victims of Kasaragod, are disturbing and extremely touching.

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May 5th, 2016
07:22 pm

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A Landmark Judgment
There are some rare instances in which we still get to see a ray of hope in the pathetic state of Governance in India - The order by National Green Tribunal regarding the construction activities in Bangalore city was one such instance.

There could surely be further legal proceedings and the land-grabbers and real-estate mafia may not just sit idle but would explore loopholes in the system. But still, this step taken by the NGT is a huge consolation and inspiration for people.

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May 1st, 2016
01:33 pm

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Koodalmanikyam Festival
Had a short visit to Kerala and came back this morning. It was Day 8-10 of Koodalmanikyam festival, and I was intending to watch the Sheeveli fully for all the days, along with other festival programs, etc. But the heat was unbearable in Kerala - the worst I have experienced so far, and I found it too hard to go out and stand under the sun for long. So I could just manage to watch the climax of the Panchari Melam on Day 8-9 and a little bit of the Aarattu procession.

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April 26th, 2016
09:51 am

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The Great Indian Obsession
In his book The Great Indian Obsession, author Adhitya Iyer explores one of the obsessions of Indians - the craze for making their children "engineers". Every year, India produces more engineers than any other country in the World, and engineering has become like some sort of a primary and default qualification in India. So, we have actors, musicians, authors, artists - people working in a wide variety of fields, who are engineers by education. And most of those who are not in that list, prefer to become a software engineer irrespective of their branch of study. The irony is that in spite of producing so many software engineers and computer professionals, hardly any breakthrough innovation in terms of core computer technology has come from India in recent past; But many Indians residing in other countries have become successful entrepreneurs. Adhitya Iyer tries to analyze this scenario in his well-written book.

Adhitya Iyer starts with his travel experiences to various IIT JEE coaching centers, along with his observations on engineering education, and then moves on to write on Indian education system in general - the caste based reservations, the social and cultural aspects of education and the historical background in creation of particular mindsets in Indian parents, the brain drain, etc. The author has also inserted several passages containing general information and trivia about Indian politics and history (Apparently, the book seems to be written primarily with a non-Indian reader in mind, so we even see the word "Ram" being qualified with "A Hindu lord", and we see passages explaining that "Indian Railways" is a state-run enterprise). Overall, I found the book to be informative and interesting.

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