Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Movie Stars turning to Politics

With the TN assembly elections approaching, new bonds and relationships are forming as film stars turn to offer their support and popularity to the "kazhagam aatchi" (AIADMK, DMK, MDMK etc.) in Tamil Nadu. Rumors of actor X and actress Y joining a party speards like wildfire amongst the masses and especially to their ardent fans who diligently follow their star's words and offer their support towards the party's election campaign and voting.
Looking back at the history of Tamil Nadu, stalwarts like MGR, Karunanidhi, JJ were all off shoots of the cine field who used their mass appeal to enter politics and this tradition has continued over the years in the South. And, once election ends, its not uncommon for these folks to end the so-called "kootani" and start bitching about their political counter-parts.
A look at some of the recent movie stars entries into politics to refresh our memories.
1. S Ve. Shekhar- Most recent entry whose name was announced on the AIADMK Candidate list by CM and party leader J Jayalalitha.
2. Karthik- Yestteryear popular hero who initially tried to get into DMK but failed and then promptly went to AIADMK where he was not accepted, now his party would be contesting alone in the coming elections.
3. Captain Vijayakanth- An actor who is well known for his genorosity behind the scenes and who has a spot amongst the rural masses for his action oriented and village themes, recently launched his party and made his foray into politics and will be facing his first election.
4. Kushboo-A popular heroine in the 90's Kushboo's attempt at entering politics has failed and she has denied contesting against a young politician favoring a particular party in the coming elections.
And, last but definitely not the least SuperStar himself, who stands like the Iron Man whose words and actions seem to make up the minds of more than half of Tamil Nadu. Inspite of the actor's decision not to support any political party in the coming election, his fans seem to rush off in directions supporting AIADMK and calling themselves the Rajini Makkal Kazhagam, as a new party. However, the Superstar's intervention at a timely moment stopped further party plans.
Let's wait and see as to who the next set of cinema stars who attempt political entry in the coming elections are going to be!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Long Distance Surprises

This morning was yet another one, except that it was Friday, last day of the longest work week. As i was getting ready to leave, the landline phone rings and special K picks it up and says that its for me. My immediate thought and question was Is it from India, my parents? K says, Nope, doesn't seem like it as the caller ID says restricted or something like that.

I take the phone from K and say "Hello.." someone screams my name at the top of her voice through a disturbing connection and i keep saying hello, who is this.......this person keeps talking to me saying how are you, you can keep wondering who i am while i talk etc.

My memory seems to be running through a list of possible names, and i find myself saying Hey, I have heard this voice before, it seems vaguely similar, oh, but i don't know who this is. Then, the voice says I am your friend ------- calling from UAE.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, now i know who this is, none other than one of my close friends from high school whom i have known over the past 10 years and we hadn't talked/ met in 2 years since i moved to California and she got married and moved to Dubai.

Strange are the happenings of life and even more surprising are the human brain's retention capacity. This is coming from someone who remembers people over years, but, for the first time has forgotten to place a close pal's voice just because its been 2 years since we talked.

Is this a sign of growing old or is it because the phone call came at a totally unexpected time as a surprise? Still wondering..............................................................

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Rewarding Day for Stanford Medical School Graduates- Match Day 2006

This came out in the weekly journal published by Stanford Medical School's Communication and Public Affairs Office. I am sharing this article as written and published by the School of Medicine, and after reading this, i feel so much more towards the medical school graduates in this country who have put themselves through graduate school, the residency program on their path towards becoming physicians and they do deserve the earnings they make later on as doctors.

And the envelope, please: An award ceremony for doctors in which most are winners

Only a few minutes after Gina Perez-Baron opened the envelope, the weight of the one-page letter inside it hit her like a ton of bricks. “I can’t believe this,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I was a secretary.”

It had been a long road to get into and complete medical school, but on March 16, Perez-Baron, along with her classmates at the School of Medicine, saw where the journey had taken them: The envelopes held the notice of which hospitals and medical specialty programs had selected them to join their staffs after they graduate in June.

“It sounds strange since I’ve been working towards this full-time for the last 12 years, but you get so busy that you forget that there’s an end goal,” remarked Perez-Baron, who after working for a decade as a receptionist, temp and scheduler went on to become the first in her family to earn a college degree.

Yet within moments of opening the envelope what she had achieved became very real. “Suddenly it’s staring you in the face, black ink on white, and the place has a name, and the words get stuck in your throat, and the tears come as you realize, ‘They weren’t kidding—I'm gonna be a doctor!’” she said.

Perez-Baron, who turns 40 years old later this month, had gotten her dream job. She would be training as a family practice physician at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez.

The ceremony is officially known as Match Day, but some refer to it as D-Day, the Academy Awards of Medicine or the NFL draft for doctors. On that morning, upcoming graduates of medical schools nationwide learn where they will do their residency training and start their careers as physicians. This year, 15,008 students at U.S. schools—including 96 from Stanford—participated in the process, along with about 8,000 others who have already completed their medical studies or are coming from medical schools abroad.

The assignments are made by a nonprofit organization, the National Resident Matching Program, using a computer algorithm to align the preferences of applicants with those of the residency programs. Medical students started the process last year, when they interviewed at different programs. Then, in February, they submitted a ranked list of where they would like to go, while program administrators submitted a ranked list of whom they would like to have. After that, it’s all a matter of mathematics as to who goes where.

But to simply boil it down to an equation would miss the gravitas of the decision—and the amount of energy that students invest in selecting their top choices. On the morning of the big day, about 150 people gathered in the lobby of Fairchild Auditorium, noshing on bagels, lox and quiche from a breakfast buffet. Some had brought children and spouses; others parents and grandparents. Perez-Baron had brought her dog, Maya.

Dean Philip Pizzo, MD, addressed the gathering, acknowledging that they probably all wanted him to be brief so that they could get to the business at hand. “It is 93 days to graduation,” he said, “but in the long run I doubt any of you will remember that day as much as this one: Match Day is transformational.”

Transformational with some very real-world drama, noted Kendra Bowman, whose match would radically affect the job prospects of her partner, Wayne Corzan, a postdoctoral fellow in neuroendocrinology. She had ranked 10 places for a residency in general surgery, but some of her choices would not be conducive to his research. “He had been kind of half-joking that he would go into real estate or fix cars,” she said.

When Bowman opened the envelope, however, she had gotten her first choice, the program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, which would afford Corzan the opportunity to continue his work as well. She soon was hugging other classmates, as she exchanged congratulations.

Bowman said that she had been nervous in the weeks before submitting her rankings but had slept soundly in the three weeks since then. “I felt pretty good about the possibilities,” Bowman said. “It was like opening a gift at Christmas.”

Not everyone felt the drama that day. Kahealani Rivera strolled over to the event in her blue scrubs, having just intubated a patient as part of her anesthesia rotation. She was confident that she would be returning home to Hawaii, another student in the Stanford class who was the first in her family to graduate from college, not to mention medical school.

It had been difficult to decide what her first choice would be a few weeks earlier when she had to place her rankings online. She had been tempted to pursue a high-powered career in one of the specialties for which Hawaii has no residencies. But she also wanted her 2-year-old daughter to grow up among her cousins, aunts and uncles.

“I had to dig deep into myself and think about what was going to best for my daughter,” said Rivera, who at age 27 had to decide what her lifetime priorities would be. “You can’t always have everything you want, and I decided that family comes first.”

So when she opened her envelope to learn that she had received her residency in internal medicine, she was perfectly calm. “Cool,” she said, and held up a finger for No. 1.

Nationally, 84.6 percent of students matched to one of their top three program choices, with 60.1 percent getting their first choice. At Stanford, according to a preliminary review from the dean’s office, showed that 92 percent matched to one of their top three choices, with 80 percent getting their top ranking. While a few students are notified ahead of time that they have not matched and need to scramble to find an opening, the vast majority come to Match Day knowing that they have gotten one of the programs on their list.

Still, if you have a rankings list with dozens of programs, there’s plenty of room left for concern. And that was the case for Erik Bekkers, 31, and Kerri Rieger, 30, who met during medical school and were married in October. The two of them—both of whom are graduating MD/PhD students—were doing a couple’s match, which meant that the system would try to keep them together but that they had to submit a plethora of combinations.

“I’m very nervous for us,” Bekkers admitted a few minutes before receiving his envelope.

Rieger smiled at him. “That’s typical,” she said, brushing aside his worries. “As long as we’re together, I’m happy.”

A half-hour later, they were more than happy. “It’s a miracle,” said Bekkers. “I’m in shock,” added Rieger. They had received their first choice, placing in residency programs at Stanford, him in radiology, her in dermatology, following a yearlong transitional internship at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Terrence Blaschke, MD, associate dean for medical student advising, said that it never gets to be old hat to watch the students open the envelopes. “We all get a little nervous,” he said. It brings back memories of 1968 when he and his wife did a couple’s match, In some respects, he said, not much has changed since then.

But one difference is that in addition to the laughter and tears, hugs and kisses, high fives and anguished expressions, students now are on their cell phones to friends and relatives around the world within seconds of learning their fates.

Within minutes of getting the news, 29-year-old Phuoc Van Le, his wife Erin and his 13-year-old sister Jennifer, whom the couple are raising, ran outside to begin their calls. “We did it,” he told one friend. “We’re going to Boston.”

A few feet away, Erin, a second-grade teacher in Sunnyvale, began to tell a relative, “It hasn’t sunk in yet .... My life was being held hostage in an envelope.” Jennifer just beamed. She had, after all, gotten the morning off from school, and they were now moving to what had been her brother’s first choice: a combination residency of pediatrics and internal medicine at the hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School. He already had a plane ticket to Boston and would be flying out in a matter of days to begin looking for a home.

Around the corner, Perez-Baron and her classmate Ana Miranda were also talking into a cell phone on speaker mode to a third student, Jaime Garcia, who had not been able to make it to the event. All three had gotten their first choice, and Perez-Baron said they were overwhelmed.

“It’s finally real, and we’re all in a state of total disbelief,” she said. “It sounds very hokey, and it is, but it’s how it feels—very cool, very surreal, completely overwhelming—and all you can think is, ‘Wow’ and ‘Oh God, I should’ve studied more.’”

Bloggers.......would be interested in reading your comments on this.....

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Movie Watching- A Costly Outing

Sathyam Theatre, Chennai

IMC6, San Jose

Come Friday night and the weekend, most of us Bay Area folks are into movie watching, be it at home on our DVD players or at the IMC6 theatre in San Jose. Several of us use netflix or go to a nearby Blockbuster or the Namaste Plaza shop to pick up a recent movie and just come home and watch movies in the comfort of our homes. The cost is either $4.50 at blockbuster or even cheaper at the other places. Also, the crash of DVD player prices and the glut of new technologies like your plasma TV etc. make movie watching at home an enjoyable and accessible experience to fans.

And, there are sometimes, when a good tamil movie releases on a Friday night at the India Movie Center here in San Jose and Balaji (bbthots.blogspot.com) writes about it in his blog and we read the initial review and decide to catch it at the theatre. The ticket is $8 per person and if its the first day of release for a good movie, like for instance Rang De Basati, then its safe to do an online booking before you head out.
During a recent phone conversation to India, my dad mentioned that a movie ticket price in Chennai is anywhere between Rs.120 to Rs.350 depending on your comfort level and theatre preference. If you want to watch a film at Satyam theatre, which used to be one of our favorite haunts during high school and college days, it now costs around Rs.300 total.

Ticket price: Rs. 120-350

Popcorn and Pepsi/Coke: Rs.90-110

Small meal (if you want to have): Rs.140 or so

I am just stumped looking at the expense, thinking about the times when we used to be able to watch a movie for Rs.30-40 bucks or even cheaper. But, if you think of what special K and i spend for catching a movie at the local IMC or Naz, it comes upto slightly the same or higher in terms of an evening out.

But, i am sure that its probably worth paying in India to sit inside the Satyam's newly renovated digitally enhanced theatres to enjoy a movie. If you walk into the interior of the IMC6 in San Jose, a musty smell of oldness and peeling paint off the walls with a dull light greets you and makes you wonderfor a moment if this was a theatre in the US or if you were sitting inside the halls of a cinema theatre in a town like Chidambaram or Karaikudi. But still, with all the complaints, we end up going, just to get a taste of watching Thalaivar or a nice tamil masala padam on big screen.

I guess there will soon be a time when producers begin to realize that home viewing can become a great revenue source and the trend has already begun as new DVDs are being released sooner than they used to be. So, even if you don't end up going to the theatre, you will always have a chance to see it, which is what we decide to do many times when we don't feel it worth going to IMC6.

Again, privacy laws are being enforced more strictly and you can't argue with the fact that certain films are better enjoyed on big screen.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaged Aah!

Thanks to Raz for tagging me...here goes my list. I guess the purpose of this tag was to bring out the International Women's Day spirit-

Women whom i admire most in my life........
Refer to my blog on IWD, Revathy and MS Subbulakshmi are the additions...

Reasons for likes:

I feel that these women have gone beyond traditional roles and have carved a niche for themselves in their respective professions be it singing, acting, writing, dancing, cooking etc.

Reasons for dislikes:
None...why would i dislike them if i like them...dumb question!

Foods I like:
Italian and all South/North Indian dishes prepared by me :)

8 ppl i like to rag/tag: ???
Let this end with me, not sure if all bloggers have the time and interest to do this!

Thanks for tagging me!

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Mush Register from HINDU

(picture: courtesy of HINDU)

I am a regular reader of the online version of THE HINDU; especially the supplementary features that come along with the main edition of the paper every day. My favorite is the Metro Plus section that appears every other day. There is a column named "The Mush Register" which portrays a happily married couple, mostly middle or older aged couples who have a few lines to say about their spouse, love and marriage years. The articles are mostly accompanied by a picture of the couple and just a small paragraph on what each of them have to say.

I was touched by reading this week's Mush Register and wanted to share it with fellow bloggers-

Article Titled: Surmounting Odds Hariharan with wife Sita

You can't find such a selfless man. He has carried me on his shoulders after my bones became brittle due to osteoporosis. Although a walker enables me to barely stand on my feet, I need assistance at every stage. He comes to my aid instantly whenever I require attention. Sometimes, my eyes brim with tears when I see him help me. He does all this despite his own load of health problems — spondylitis, vertigo and high blood pressure.

We have been married for 51 years and she has taken care of me for most of this period. Now, it's my turn. Both our sons are settled in the United States and our daughter is recovering from lung cancer. In this scenario, friends and neighbours have been a great support to us. The apartment complex we live in can be called a home for the aged. There are about a dozen senior citizens and we help one another. Almost everyone battles with health problems and some wrestle with loneliness.

(As told to Prince Frederick of Hindu)

Your thoughts...............................?

Happy Weekend!

Monday, March 06, 2006

On International Women's Day (March 8th)

March 8th is marked as International Women's Day (IWD) every year and marks the occasion of women all over the world coming together to look at a tradition that marks the struggle for equality, justice and development. Books mention that this IWD is the story of ordinary women as makers of history and the idea of celebrating such a day first arose at the turn of the century, in which the expansion and booming population growth brought about radical changes in women's lives. I've been reading some articles on the Indian front on the subject of women's development and IWD and thought it would be interesting to share some of the readings and my thoughts on this topic.

India can boast of having created some legendary women, in terms of their remarkable personalities -such as Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, MS Subbulakshmi, Asha Bhonsle to begin with. Saluting these women on the event of IWD, its time now to recognize the achievements of modern women. The impact of thinking about women on IWD is hardly popular, when compared to Valentine's day or Friendshp day.

The underlying commitment that all these members of the fairer sex have is to uplift themselves and to reach out to someone in need. Indian women have travelled a long way from being just good wives, mothers and career women to break barriers and carve a niche for themselves in almost every field possible.
Here are some Indian women that i feel have made a difference to this society-
  • Writer Sivasankari- A well known socialist who brings to light some of the important social themes such as alcoholism, adultery, women's abuse etc.
  • Actress Shabana Azmi- Acting in rare roles on films that have a poignant social touch such as Arth, Ankur, Water, Fire etc, this woman is still passionate about her roles post- 50 years of age.
  • Queen of Indian Cuisine Tarla Dalal- Recognized all over for her excellent recipes and especially popular for her North Indian and Vegetarian dishes.
  • Sudha Narayanamurthy- wife of Infosys chairman Narayanamurthy and a writer cum chairwoman of philanthropic organizations and charity work to the villages in India
  • Dancer Padma Subramaniam- still performing for the love of art and tradition at an age when most women have lost their interest in life or are too sick to walk around

    So, if you have a favorite woman whom you would like to acknowledge or add to the list on behalf of IWD, drop in your comments.