Friday, December 23, 2005

An Entertaining Science Book...

Hang on, did I key the title correctly ?? I mean, look at it. "An Entertaining Science Book'.. when was a book on science ever entertaining ?? interesting, yes but entertaining ??.. How many of us found science at school n college entertaining ?.. Newton's laws of motion, oxidation and reduction reactions, chloroplasts and photosynthesis etc etc.. all this was fine, people made careers out of these and other such disciplines.. but still 'entertaining' does not quite fill in.. but thankfully, the book I am reading is of that rare combination.. people who have read it already might know what I am talking abt.. yes it is 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson..

Now when I first saw this book at an exhibition a few months back, I was fascinated by the title. I thought, how can anyone write a history, albeit short, of just about everything, much less in a 600 page book ? This, and a quick glance, made me buy the book.. and rightly so, since it is more a reference book rather than something that is borrowed from a friend, read once and then returned..

Ok.. coming to the book.. as the title suggests, its a good narration of how many things and disciplines that we see around us have evolved.. it includes things as infinite as the universe as well as cells, chloroplasts on the other end of the scale..the beauty of all this is that the author has kept the narration simple without going into too much of terminology.. and of course, since this is a book about 'history of science'.. he goes well into how things developed into what they are.. with a good sense of humour thrown in.. for me, the best part of the book is how he has converted scientific quantities and numbers into something that we laymen can imagine.. for eg the fact that Pluto is 'x' million miles away from the Sun may not seem much, but when the author says that from the surface of Pluto, the Sun would appear the size of a pin-head, things begin falling into place and we can grasp the enormity of space much better... with numerous other examples, the author has ensured that scientific dimensions like distances, mass, pressures etc do not remain mere figures with some unit attached to it but are something that we can describe in terms of objects around us.. this makes the book even more entertaining and helps us remember..

So to finish, heres something for the collectors shelf, go ahead and buy it..


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Day out @ Wankhede

Had gone to the Wankhede stadium here in Mumbai on Monday for the India-SA ODI.. Managed to buy tickets by using the 'connections' :-) and went to the ground after a gap of 7 years.. The first thing that strikes you when you take that walk from Churchgate station to the ground is the absolute carnival atmosphere.. thousands of people of all types (the fashionable youth, the middle aged gentlemen with their families and even pretty young ladies :-).. add to it the tricoloured banners which were being sold outside, people painting the tricolour on your cheeks for a paltyr 5 bucks.. all of this testimony to the amazing magnetic power that the game has..
I reached there at 1.45 pm and had to rush to the stands to ensure that I got a place to sit.. the gates open at around 11 am and people start tricking in immediately.. I was just in time... another 10 min delay and I would have had to spent 8 agonizing hours standing.. then I discovered the reason why.. some 10000 ppl had apparently got in with fake tickets... so a stadium with an offical seating capacity of around 42000 was packed with 55000 screaming fans... as with all other public places, trains etc in India (and esp in Mumbai) there were ppl, ppl, ppl everywhere.. and after a time it really gets suffocating.. which brings me to another point.. the Wankhede is an absolutely dull stadium without any charm.. it is actually not befitting Mumbai's status as the cricket capital of India (and after Pawar's win - the BCCI HQ).. it needs something to rival the Eden Gardens... but having said that, things would not change.. you would still have 120 thousand packed against the capacity of 100 thousand.. this happens only in India !!!!

As for the match itself, it was great fun.. Pathan got us off to a great start by taking few early wickets (esp Smith)... that immediately ensured the crowd got into a good mood early on... and when in a good mood, there are few crowds to rival those in Mumbai.. for once, even though they are less in numbers than the ones in Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.. they have wonderful synchronizations.. so the 'Sachiinnn Sachhinnn' ' Ganpati Bappa Moryaaaaa' can be heard loud and clear on the TV.. the Mexican wave also started in right earnest... and to their credit, the Men in Blue kept up the pressure (especially the fielding was at its athletic best).. and finally restricted the Proteas to 221..

During the supper break went to the canteen and it was absolute mayhem... people were literally falling over each other to get whatever grub was avaliable.. and all of it was over in 15 minutes.. and the loo was no better.. had to wait 10 minutes in a line to relieve myself.. the vendors of course, had a field day... a 350 ml Pepsi glass at 30 bucks, a chocobar icecream at 40 bucks but still a lot of takers.. one guy even had the nerve to come with a jar of 'mineral' water and proclaim 'Ek Glass sirf dus rupaye main'... finally managed to get a grill sandwich and a pepsi and went back to the stands.. by that time the lights were on in full glow and the stadium was a sight..

The Indian innings opened with the Sachin chants as Mumbai's favourite son came out to open the innings.. and he started off with a bang against Ntini and Pollock.. soon Sehwag joined in the fun and the crowd went wild... but Sehwag fell first followed by Sachin on just the first ball after drinks.. but thankfully for the crowd, the skipper played one of his trademark innings and Yuvraj played a gem of an innings to seal the victory...

So thus my proud record was maintained.. have now watched 2 tests and 2 ODIs at the Wankhede and India have won all of them... but more than that its the sheer experience of being at the venue of the match... its something else !!!!

Ciao for now