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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chp 221. Mizo Committee: Formalities.

So this Sunday I took part in my first MSYM (Mizo Students & Youth of Mumbai Association) executive-member committee. And the funny thing? I was neither a part of the executive body nor was I invited! I gate-crashed the meeting. lolz.

Ok so it was like this. After the Mizo Church service @ Malabar Hills, me and my friends would usually go to Gokul (a very popular Mizo hangout) @ Colaba, followed by dinner at Bagdadi right next door. And then we would all part our respective ways.

We would socialize and talk about various stuff that’s happening around our lives, families, jobs, society, relationships etc, after all, that’s the only day we all get to see each other.

That Sunday, the MSYM executive members had a committee, so my friends told me to go ahead to Gokul with some of the other guys and they’ll catch up with me after their meeting. And then suddenly I discovered one thing: All the people I knew well were ALL members of the executive body!!! Arrrgh.

I didn’t know the other guys who were going to Gokul that well. I didn’t want to feel awkward sitting with people I’ve never spoken to before (who also all happen to be much younger than me).

So I had no other option but to tag along with the executive members to their meeting!

The MSYM President Mafaka (err that’s his name. I’m not cussing him!) was extremely understanding and had no objection to me being present during their committee. My friends told me that was the first time an outsider (Read: non-executive member of MSYM or BMCF or MMA) was present for any of their committees. lolz! Of course I felt awkward, but rather that than the other option.

So there I was, sitting in the committee as if I was an important delegate discussing about critical agendas!

Hence for my dear non-Mizo visitors, here you have it, an outsider-cum-insider’s report of how committees are held in our Mizo community.

Social voluntary work is extremely popular in the Mizo community. We have this committee and that committee for this function and that function. The list is endless. Back home at my locality, I am a proud executive member of our local Church’s Refreshment committee! Our group takes care of all the refreshments that are served after Church and other important Church related activities, right from preparing tea to serving tea to washing the cups.

Likewise the other youngsters belong to various other committees like those who take care of the seating arrangements, the sound system, transportation and accommodation etc. This is a common practice in our Mizo society.

Back to Mumbai – 18th Jan 2009, 5 PM.

The MSYM committee started off very well that day. It was extremely professional. One minute we were all sitting together laughing and joking and teasing one another with the latest gossips about them etc, and then when the committee started, everybody was dead serious.

MSYM President (Mafaka) started with a prayer. And then MSYM secretary (Saia) distributed the agenda sheet. He handed me the agenda sheet too and everybody laughed, but a second later it was all back to being serious again.

The Agenda:
1. Finalizing the MSYM tee-shirt.
2. Discussing the MSYM picnic spot.
3. Planning the upcoming MSYM general election.
4. Discussing the nomination for next agenda.
5. Deciding if it is possible to nominate agenda over phone.

Apart from those, there were urgent issues not a part of the agenda which were discussed at the end of the meeting, which MSYM treasurer (Mapuii) announced as AOB. When I asked her what that stood for, she boldly replied "Agenda Omlo a tawpa Belh – A.O.B." which meant, "Not a part of the Agenda which is added in the end".

I later googled and found out AOB stood for Any Other Business which is discussed at the end of an Agenda in a meeting. I must say Mapuii came pretty close! We definitely need a treasurer like her… someone who could say anything with a straight face!

"Mapuii, where is the 5000 bucks meant for the picnic?"
"My dog ate them, u Maruat."
"Oh, ok."

Just kidding. Mapuii’s a good friend of mine. Sweet, helpful, and caring, although I have no idea why her pet name is "Mapuii" when her real name is Vanlalthlani.

All the executive members stood up whenever they had to say anything. All of them had done their homework really well. Example, the sports secretary (Hriatpuia) had collected all the information required regarding which company could manufacture MSYM T-shirts and at what cost etc. Assistant Secretary (STa) also had a couple of really good points to make. Likewise, everybody (except me of course) was free to voice their opinion and others were free to counter their argument.

Exec member TBC (Vaiva) fell asleep and snored during the earlier Church service! Ok that’s not related to the meeting, but I just felt like mentioning that here The dude snored and drooled all over my freaking shoulders!!!! Arrrrgh!

Exec member Mapuia Vashi was shouting at the top of his lungs as usual to the person sitting right next to him. Never sit next to him at Gokuls! Your ears would ring for the next one week! Assistant leader Mapuia MBA bunked. Guess he’s enjoying swinging like a Tarzan these days. Exec member Rob-a demonstrated some pole dancing steps which he learnt during the New Year’s party.

Ok. Back to the MSYM committee now. The meeting progressed slowly, and as one agenda was discussed after the other, the secretary finally summarized the meeting and announced the conclusions. Once every member was satisfied with the report, the President ended the committee with a prayer. The committee lasted for nearly 3 hours!

Ok here is where something funny took place!

The MSYM President said, "Ok we shall end this meeting with the Lord’s Prayer." And we all stood up, waiting for him to lead the prayer. He started [in Mizo] "Aw Lalpa…" (Oh Lord) instead of "Kan Pa…" (Our Father). His exactly words were "Aw Lalpa… oh ka tihsual… Kan Pa, Van a mi…" (Oh Lord… ooops sorry, Our Father, who art in Heaven…)

Of course there’s nothing wrong with the meaning, but it sounded really funny because it was different from the conventional way and it was so innocently blundered too. We joined in with the prayer, but I could hear my friend Vaiva who was standing right next to me trying hard to control his laughter. He’s closer to Hell than I am! (err… because he is shorter, duh).

Great meeting. Great responsibility. Great maturity. Special thanks of course to u-Maruata, in whose house the committee was held. Aunty remembered me even though the last time we saw each other was more than 4 years ago!

When she served tea to everybody and I told her I don’t drink tea, she went to the kitchen and made MILK for me!!! Very embarrassing to be drinking hot milk in front of the giggling ladies, I must confess. But I gulped down my milk like a real man and we all went to Bagdadi for dinner after that.

What happened in between the dinner and after we left u-Maruata’s house is all blur to me, if you know what I mean

And so that is how a typical committee is held in our society. Cheers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chp 220. A little bit of speed. Speed Metal!

[A Metal centric post]

Ask any metal fan which is their favorite symphonic speed metal band and the reply you’re most likely to get is Helloween.

(err… by Metal fans, I mean those who are hardcore into all types of metal and not those who know just the popular bands like Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica etc. Sorry folks, you don’t count.)

Speed metal is one of my favorite genres of metal. And I was high on Helloween ever since high school. Hence in this post we shall talk only about speed metal (and also a little bit about "power metal" because of the close correlation). Hope you enjoy this post.

First of all, for the uninitiated, what is Speed Metal?

According to allmusic:

Speed Metal:

In the early '80s, speed metal became the most popular form of heavy metal in the American underground. Speed metal was extremely fast, abrasive, and technically demanding — the bands played fast, but their attack was precise and clean.

Characterized by fast paced guitar riffs, rapid double bass drums and riotous tempos, what I LOVE about speed metal is the clear crispy lyrics amidst such aggressive music. Hence the likes of thrash, death, doom and black metal differ from speed metal in terms of clarity and morbidity.

Taking this "clean" quality of speed metal one notch higher, we have symphonic speed metal. But in this post I will refer to this genre as just "speed metal" as there are many schools of thought that believe symphony is now an integral part of speed (and also because many of the original popular speed metal bands are now categorized differently or have changed their style).

I. Helloween

Helloween are truly the GODS of speed metal. No doubt about that.

As for me, I came into the Helloween scene late (because of my generation, duh) and was into Helloween only from the early 90s because of my seniors and cousins’ influences.

The first Helloween album I bought was their 7th album "The time of Oath" after my cousin Atea recommended it (around 95-96), and hence that’s my favorite album. I remember the time because money was tight those days (and extremely valuable since I was just a kid) and I bought that album with my own pocket money!!! (That, and Slayer’s "Seasons in the Abyss". Ah, nostalgia!)

"The time of Oath" brought tears to my eyes, especially since it was dedicated to their drummer Ingo who committed suicide the previous year. Based on the prophesies of Nostradamus, this album has the most number of my favorite Helloween songs - "power", "forever and one", "steel tormentor", "the time of oath", "wake up the mountain" and many more.

Funny thing about Helloween though. In the 90s, I couldn’t find any of their albums anywhere in Kolkatta or Chennai (they were still Calcutta and Madras those days). But walk the narrow small winding streets of Aizawl barabazaar and you could see all the roadside vendors with copies and copies of bands like Helloween, Testament, Pantera, Motörhead etc!

In school (St.Thomas - Calcutta and Montfort - Tamilnadu) whenever I tell my non-Mizo friends about this amazing band Helloween, they would immediately correct me, "Kima, Halloween is pronounced HAL-O-WEEN. HAL. HAL. Not HEL. Say it slowly… HAL… O… WEEEEN. You have a slight Mizo accent."

And I would be like, “What the bloody @^$&%$#. The name of the band is HELL-O-WEEN. HELL!!! HELL! NOT HAL."

Yeah, those were difficult times!

Also do not miss "Keeper of the seven keys part 1", considered to be Helloween’s best album and harbinger of symphonic speed / power metal into mainstream rock. The Dark Ride (2000) was the last album I bought before I discovered napster, audiogalaxy and their successors.

But the world of Speed metal is not just Helloween. There are numerous amazing bands out there that follow the styles of Helloween. I’ll take you through two other favorite bands of mine.

II. Axenstar

Perpetual Twilight and The Final Requiem are my favorite albums. Fast paced guitar riffing and bass beat, the songs you MUST check out are perpetual twilight, king of tragedy, the cross we bear, blind leading the blind and the sands of time.

Like vocalist Andi Deris of Helloween, Axenstar’s vocalist Magnus Winterwild has a unique high pitch voice that you can easily distinguish – A voice that seems to transport you across interdimensional realms of psychedelic metal fusion. (RSJ, please hire me! )

III. DragonForce

Ok stop grinning. Yeah I find the name corny too!

Sounds like those anime on cartoon network with space ships that can transform into one giant dragon shaped robot right?

But they’re my second favorite speed metal band. "Valley of the damned" is a masterpiece, an example of their many fantasy based themes. And again, like the two bands mentioned above, ZP Theart, vocalist and frontman, has that really melodic and high pitch voice which makes their songs so soothing and pleasant to listen to.

If you haven’t listened to "Through the fire and flames", then you are missing something! It’s their most popular and acclaimed song, and probably the best speed metal song so far! (Just my opinion)

Youtube link of their music video here:

The song even featured in the Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock game, where it was proclaimed the most difficult stage!

[img src blog.wired and istyles ]

Herman Li, guitarist of DragonForce himself could complete just 2% in the HARD difficulty level! If you can complete it at EXPERT difficulty level, then you earn "The Inhuman Achievement" in XBOX 360!!!

And here is 9 years old Ben scoring a whopping 866K on this! I don’t know if he’s the same kid I saw on the Ellen DeGeneres show, but that kid in the show was also playing this same "Through the fire and flames" track.

Here’s the video of Ben in action:

And last but not the least, here is a BOT playing this same game to perfection, programmed by JefffN666.

Before you sign off, try to get hold of another DragonForce song called "Soldiers of a Wasteland" which is as awesome as the above too!

With that, I too will call it a day. Wish I could tell you about my other favorite speed metal bands like Blind Guardian, Running Wild, Accept, Rage, Grave Digger, Sinner etc but due to time and space constraint I’ll get back to my speed metal meditation for now.

Cheers and rock on!

Ps. A little help required from my Mizo visitors - While describing DragonForce, I wanted to say "Guitar zut an tlir kha, a phuh in an rawn phuh chhuak". How do I say this in English??? The closest I could come to was, "They spewed out rapid strumming in quick succession" but that is pathetic and doesn't make any sense. Help anyone?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chp 219. No more Tribal Wars!

Aaaargh!! That’s it. No more Tribal Wars for me, ever! No more Travian. No more Ikariam. No more browser MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) !! Period.

The bane of Online Games!

I remember posting about Tribal Wars a couple of months ago and how exciting it was. I gave a couple of reasons why this game was the next best thing that happened to me ever since I discovered that "the birds and the bees" was just a metaphor.

Chp 205. Online Tribal Warfare!

Reasons why this is an amazing game:
  1. Being a browser game, it does not require any CD/DVD installations or high system graphics settings. All you require is a browser (duh!) and a net connection.
  2. Same rules and styles of strategy games like AOE, Warcraft, ROME etc.
  3. The style of the game involves slow resource collection and slow movements. Hence you don’t need to sit in front of the game the whole time. You just need to click a few commands once every 3-4 hours.
  4. It is an MMORPG, hence the other players I am interacting with are real people all around the world. No crappy AI.

Those were the reasons why I thought this game rocked.

Well, I WAS WRONG!!! So wrong!

Yes, I do not waste any precious office hours as I just need to check on the game once every 3-4 hours only for just a few minutes. My work does not get affected in any way.

And it was that very thought which made me blindly believe that there was nothing wrong with the game. After all, work is the most important priority for any individual right? Wrong. My work might not have been affected, but my LIFE certainly was!

Oh dear Lord, the addiction!!!!! The uncontrollable urges! I became a total junkie to this new drug, and I just couldn’t seem to get enough of it! My social life was completely torn apart. My biological clock went haywire.

Sometimes I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night thinking if one of my neighbors was going to attack me, or if our tribe had made the right decision in allying with another tribe that other players despised, or whether my warehouse would be full before I could come online.

Thoughts that haunted me day in and day out.

At first, it felt great playing this game. We collected resources slowly and started building our armies. It was great taking part in minor wars. It was not a big deal losing my village because it was all a matter of learning – I simply restarted and played everything from the beginning again, not repeating the same mistakes I made. Everything was taken lightly.

But slowly, as I became a PRO from a noob, things drastically changed.

I was no longer playing for fun or leisure.

It was now a matter of dominating my area, my continent, my world! I started devouring villages after villages, mercilessly nobling [TW slang for conquering another village] the unsuspecting players and creating havoc in their area. And then suddenly I realized, what the heck am I doing????

Unlike PC strategy games, there is absolutely no goal in this game. You just keep expanding and expanding by taking over as many villages as possible, while at the same time concentrating on defense so that other players don’t conquer your villages.

You start playing it like a chess game. You try to read their minds. You send fake attacks and you try to determine whether your enemy is sending fakes or not. Should you dodge that first wave of attack?

And the problem is, the more villages you have, the more you’ll have to start monitoring your villages and attacks. Ergo, the more restless and distracted you’ll become when you are away from the internet for a long time.

Everyday I start my day by raiding all the small villages around me for extra resources - I’m bored now because that is soooo monotonous. But I HAVE to raid them because it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else when I know there are "free" resources (wood, clay and iron) available in those villages.

These days, I usually spend the weekends at M’s place. Even though I have an amazing time over there, I just can’t help thinking about my villages and tribes. That’s so damn irritating. nnnnaaaaaarrrgghh!

I needed a break.

In the middle of a party I started thinking about my farm upgrades. Over dinner I was contemplating about sending my nukes out or not. Sitting in the loo I started deciding which 50K player I should invade, weighing all the pros and cons of invading victim number1 and victim number2. Should I research on my cavalry-archers first or catapults? Which player is a possible threat in my area? What is his style of playing – defensive? aggressive? Is he concentrating only on raiding units or heavy on Rams?

Blah blah blah.

Hence after a long hard thought, today I deleted all my accounts in every single World that I was dominating. No more MMORPG games for me. I am now Tribal Wars FREE!!! Yay!

Yeah mum, no need to enroll me in that Tribal Wars Rehab camp, or force me to take part in a Tribal Wars Anonymous Meetings!

Wow! I’ve forgotten how beautiful the real World is like! It's breathtaking! That online madness had really blinded me! Now I can see! Now it’s time to physically get more involved in real-World activities like… blogging, orkut, facebook, twitter and community discussions forums. woot woot!


Ps. Cheers to all the players I’ve fought with or defeated, the new friends I’ve found and the times we’ve spent socializing with one another. "Baron Mizohican" will cherish those moments forever.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Chp 218. 36 hours

36 hours of virginal bliss
fused with a reality so surreal.
This madness, sweet madness
echoing across every sense within me.

36 hours of binge
neither sleep nor exhaustion prevailing.
Day and night and day again
all becoming but one single entity.

36 hours of ecstasy
dripping slowly, like overflowing nirvana,
seeping down the celestial rope
to the open souls of thirsty mortals.

36 hours of sin
rollicking amidst the darkest realm
and yet, intentions so innocent,
placing the Heavenly in a dilemma.

36 hours of poison
and reminiscence that will forever be engraved
- a moment truly immortalized;
- a Legend to pass down among brethrens.

36 hours of Eden
quenching the bottomless Inferno within.
In the horizon, daylight breaks
we salute the dawn with our chalices high!

36 hours of everything
Time gradually swaying like intoxication;
till the sun returns to the shadows…
oh darkness again, welcoming us with open arms!

36 hours of distorted paradise
and inhibitions found wanting.
A moment never to relive…
but sweet Lord, forever I’ll cherish!

Happy New Year everyone!