Monday, January 30, 2006

Paheli – Behind the screens

Chaos is off the hook and I can’t help myself from blustering a bit about Paheli, the online puzzle which I made for Chaos Moksha 2006, our annual cultural fest. With 9821 (7125 unique) page loads in just 17 days; average of 577 (419 unique) page loads per day; 1389 (888 unique) being the maximum page loads on any particular day; more than 1600 comments on the blog that discusses clues which is after deleting 200 odd comments that contained more-than-explanatory hints or offensive words; threads in different discussion sites like Pagalguy, Orkut etc; a few blogs dedicated to clues, Paheli was an unexpected success; it rocked and is still ON!

The concept of the game was taken from Notpron of and Klueless of IIM Indore and was duly acknowledged. I had to do a lot of simplification in the game concept from the above sites as the people we expected to play Paheli weren’t geeks who go through a source code check and URL renaming for cracking a level.

While designing the game, I had to keep in mind that each and every level has to be more challenging than the previous one, with an increasing level of toughness. It shouldn’t be that easy to drive people away subsequent to a cake-walk feeling about the game and in addition, it shouldn’t be that tough to kill their interest out of frustration. One of the levels had a flaw in it, which was corrected at a later stage. Except for this I think Paheli performed well. DD helped me when I ran out of ideas for new levels.

Spanned over an exigent ** levels (I am not disclosing the total number of levels as it may kill the spirit of the game), Paheli is enough and more to set one’s gray cells on fire, till he/she finishes it and preparing such a battle field was one of the challenging errands I have done off late. I didn’t know php coding before I started Paheli and our server supported only php. So I had to learn it with the help of Google, design the game and implement it with so less time in hand. A few nerds of my institute put me through tough interludes while the game progressed as they cracked levels before I added more, which resulted in a lot of night outs conceiving new levels. But yeah, at the end of the day, I have to agree that it was fun making Paheli.

We plan to keep Paheli online for a while. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is done exclusively for you. :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Four days to New Year

It is almost an hour now and I am still staring at the screen in front of me which has an opened MS Outlook in it, yearning to type in a few words. It was not so long that I heard from one of my friends that Neena is going to get married tomorrow. When we met the last time, I had decided not to attend such a function of hers for any reasons whatsoever. Nevertheless, I had this continuing thought in my mind to send her at least an email that I ended up with this freaking mail window staring back at me. After all we were together for a year and we enjoyed a great time being together though we broke up almost two years back.

Four more days to the New Year and my inbox was already snowed under New Year greetings from my friends. Purns, she worked with me and was kind of a mentor to me, sends emails regularly; better call it forwards. I hardly replied to her and sometimes didn’t even open those forwards. I was not like this before. But like my other friends Purns also knew that I was busy here in London looking after a particular account of my company and I usually didn’t get time to reply to the emails from my friends. But due to some unknown instinct, I opened the latest email from her. New Year resolutions, it read. What does Purns had to advice me on a New Year? I wondered because I knew Purns knows that advices usually face a rebuff from me.

Seven things you should do on a New Year! That’s its heading. Holy Crap! I hate such forwards. But still, it’s a New Year. I gave a skim read to that forward. A particular line in it caught my attention. It’s not because that line was so great. It’s because that line had something to do with what I have been thinking for the past one hour. It read “Call someone whom you didn’t talk to for a long time”. And the first person that came to my mind was her, Neena. Was that a spur; a stimulus to call her on her marriage!

I still remember the day on which I met Neena for the first time. It was the day on which I got a confirmation letter from my company saying that my one year probationary period has come to an end and now I am a wholly owned fraction of the company. You can’t forget dates like that. They become a part of your life due to their sheer importance. I couldn’t forget my first meeting with Neena due to the coincidence of our tryst with that date. The one year rotational policy of my company marked the end of my tenure in my first project and re-implanted me into another project on the same day. That’s where I met her where we happened to get close.

Well, time has its own way to change things. Things happened in succession and it changed our relationship so drastically that it took a turn from a point where it was so difficult for us to not see each other and to not talk with each other to a point where thinking about each other was the most painful thing in our lives. The umpteen missed calls that traveled to and from our cell phones, which reminded us that we thought of each other whenever we got that, eventually stopped! And then it came to a formal end, at the jogger’s park in Vashi, on the old wooden bench by the side of the track. We went there past office hours and we both were in a hurry to somehow end it and go to our flats. I left the place, didn’t turn back, got into a metro which took me to the station near my flat. I didn’t know how she felt that time. I didn’t feel sad because I was in a haze. I didn’t realize what was happening to me, to her, to us. I never went to that park after that.

Two years can change many things. The gigantic green tree near the bus stand died off leaving a big blue hole in its place. All of my friends left to different places, more scattered than before; across the globe. My office changed from a congested cubicle in Thane to this cabin in the 45th floor of Skyline Plaza, London. And here I am, thinking about my first love on the previous day of her marriage, about which I came to know only an hour back.

So I am going to call her today. Yes I think I should call her. After all, once I loved her more than anyone else in this world and her smallest worries were my largest concerns. I closed the mail window and took my cell phone and went outside to call her. I still store all the telephone numbers associated with her. Her own, her residence number, her dads’ and her moms’. I wanted to delete it all from my phone to stop myself from thinking about her but somehow I kept it till now. Did I still love her? Can I expect a miracle when I call her? That she will come back to me. What the fuck! What all am I thinking? It’s her marriage tomorrow.

A gentle breeze caressed the balcony while I stood near the parapet with my cell phone. I pressed the number key 3 for quite sometime. Shit! Though years passed, my thumb still remembers the shortcut I made to her number! The phone on the other end kept on ringing for some time before it was taken, as was the norm with her and then I heard a voice.


“Hello, this is Hari here. Am I talking to Neena?” I replied while I was trying to recognize her voice after a long time.

After a brief silence, she replied. “Hari… Yes it is me!”

“How are you, Neena?”

“I am fine, how are you?”

“I am fine too. It’s after a long time that we are talking to each other”


“What is his name?”



“So Hari, have you married?”

“No I haven’t”. My mind took me back time, to the table at the corner in our office canteen where Neena was asking me this.

“What will you do if we can’t get married to each other and I got married to someone else?”

“Hmm… difficult question; I’ll leave the country and won’t come back to this soil then” my reply was as careless as it could be.

“Oh I’m sorry.” Her reply brought me back to the present.

“Sorry? Why? I am outside the country now” I replied all of a sudden.

She was silent. Was she remembering our conversation at the canteen?



“I called you to wish you a happy married life. I came to know that tomorrow is your marriage”

“Thank you, Hari. But my marriage happened three weeks back”

“What” I was in a shock.

“But still, the wishes hold” I didn’t realize what I was saying. I was in a haze. The same haze I was in, two years back at the park in Vashi.

“Ok then, Bye”

“Bye”. And she kept the phone down.

And that’s it. There was no office or balcony around but this demented flat in the Mumbai suburbs. I finished my story which my friend, my editor, Rohit has been asking me for more than a week to be published in his evening tabloid. Tomorrow it will go to the press and will come out as those murky lifeless printed alphabets which lack the power to convey feelings. After all who wants to read it with that passion? The four pegs of Bacardi are still active in my stomach. And its heat added with my emotions put me in to a bizarre state where there was only me. And at a distance I saw a disappearing shadow.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


IIMA’s annual cultural event Chaos – Moskha hosts this online game, Paheli.

Based on the clues in a picture shown, one has to guess the answer to reach the next level. It is similar to IIM Indore’s Klueless.

Enjoy Gaming people! And yeah PLEASE spread the word around! :-)

Monday, January 09, 2006

How do I measure up?

I am pretty much engaged in a lot many things these days. One of its outputs can be seen in this blog a few days from now. Meanwhile here is something I did for kickassso a while back. He did this serious crime of tagging me for which he has to suffer now; by reading the following patiently. I know you people are also pained due to that but puhlease bear me and vent out all your feelings, if any, in his blog ;-)

An ideal child
10. Thou shall study your lessons daily and go to the best tuition centre in the town.
9. Thou shall listen to melodious Mallu and Hindi music. Your taste may go up to the extent of listening to pop songs like that of Westlife, BSB etc and like the songs liked by your peers. Hardrock and Metal are strict no-nos.
8. Thou shall see good mallu movies and hindi movies. Only the hyped up english movies shall be seen.
7. Sports and games are essential only in theory. Thou shall take part in it at your free time and your vacation.
6. Reading is a good habit. Only if you score a lot of marks in your studies and you have set aside some time for reading. Thou shall read only goody goody books or the hyped books in the media like Harry Potter.
5. Thou shall respect your teachers and follow every word they say and write notes and complete your assignments before everybody else.
4. Thou shall not swear and berate others. No drinking and smoking.
3. Thou shall follow your parents wishes and their fantasies. Thou shall study hard and score 90+ in Xth, 85+ in XIIth and 80+ for graduation.
2. Your aim should be to do well in entrance exams and get into Medical College or CET. Then the ultimate aim should be to get through your campus placements and secure a job. Write CAT as part of a fad.
1. Thou shall not fall in love. If you do make sure the girl is your caste, not poor etc. Marry a girl of the parents' choosing and have kids. Then raise the kids on the above principles.

How do I measure up?
10. Study? (Yes I wanna ask that first and then) Daily? You kidding me? I was a one day batsman till the last exam of engineering; one who comes into the field only on the previous day of the exam.
9. I don’t go for a band/film first and then its songs. It’s always the other way round. My likes span over a range of songs. From instrumentals when I am in good moods to heavy rock when I am in tension, but yes somewhere in between, I am a great fan of Eagles, GNR, MLTR, AR Rehman, Yesudas and Carnatic songs.
8. It's been ages that I saw a Malayalam movie. I watch all sorts of movies. Well, don’t stress the words ‘all sorts’ too much. ;-)
7. Kuttiyum Kolum was my favorite game until father Thomas banned it in the school. Then it was too late for me to venture into cricket and make a mark there and hence I settled down with football, particularly at the strategic location near the goal post, well, as a permanent goalie. Then I gave up that since the opposite team got good forwards. Sport was never my cup of tea dear. But yeah I can give anyone a tough time in Carroms, BadD and tennis, off-late.
6. There is a lot to be written on my reading experiences. The two library memberships I owned were frauded. I got memberships by saying that I am of a higher age than I actually was at the time of registrations.
5. Teachers are great. Notebooks are treasures. So I keep the same one for the entire year :-). How can I complete assignments before others do, when what I am gonna write is what others had written?
4. I have tried drinking and smoking. But don't know why people continue it as a passion. Couldn't understand the pleasures behind it quite well.
3. Ciao. Someone’s calling me on the phone. Be right back ;-) Ok I think here I lived up to my parents' expectations; if what they expected of me was less. Roughly I measured 0, -5 and -10 in this.
2. Thank God, I thought I was scared of seeing blood till I was in X (I joined II group and then shifted over to I group for that single reason) that I ended up in CET instead of MC. CAT: Yes I took it and then life was in hell. Till now I couldn’t get out from that shock and I don’t know whether I made the right decision or not! :-(
1. I’m sorry you caste, wealth, religion and all such nitty-gritty’s. I don’t believe in you, when it comes to marriage. You are bugs in the social system, preventing minds from getting together.
0. I know my parents are not gonna read this, else instead of writing this, I would've done what kickassso’s name says, to him for this tag. :-)