September 17, 2011

Small Victories of the Lone Mosquiteer

The lone Mosquiteer

If it is one of those days you think your life is meaningless, swatting mosquitoes is a wonderful way to reassure yourself of your place in the food chain. (Although, I would argue that mosquitoes ought to be above us in the food chain because they drink our blood and not the other way round)

It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that there are very few things in this world that give us the kind of satisfaction swatting a fat bloody mosquito gives. Now don’t cringe. Don’t say “Eww!” as if you've never done it. I know you killed mosquitoes and I know exactly how you felt after that. Yes, I am talking about that short adrenaline pumped euphoric high you get as you see the body of a dying mosquito moving it’s legs slowly one last time before drowning in a pool of your own blood. I know how much you enjoy that okay, so let’s be honest for a second here!

See, now that's a kill!
Now that we’re on the same page. Have you ever tried to trap and kill a flying mosquito using just your thumb and index finger? Have you ever managed to pull that off? I did it, just once. Wow, a fat bloody mosquito killed using just the thumb and the index finger in a snap! The feeling was one of pure awesomeness. I was on top of the world. For 30 seconds, I felt like a ninja!

I eagerly looked around to see if anyone was fortunate enough to witness the amazing display of phalangeal athleticism. Unfortunately, there were none. Well there was this one guy who found it gross but don’t believe him, he turned his head late. So all he saw was the blood on my fingers. He missed the real deal. If you walked into the last scene of a Quentin Tarantino movie without any context, you would find it gross too wouldn’t you? It is exactly like that.

Smell the Coffee and other things

Now if you’re sad and you live in a more privileged place where there are no mosquitoes. Don’t worry. All you have to do is drop something on the floor and pick it up with your toes without bending down. That should make you feel like a frickin’ gymnast! (spoiler alert: for 30 seconds only)

Easy isn’t it? Like the cliche goes, happiness is all around you. All you have to do is look at the roses, bask in the sunshine and “smell the coffee”. Speaking of Coffee, have you ever tried to transfer coffee from one coffee mug to another? It’s one of the hardest things to do! The coffee tends to drip along the outer surface and spill. Imagining transferring it without even spilling a drop. Those are the kind of #wins I am talking about!

Have you, in recent times, written a full paragraph on a piece of paper that is bigger than a sticky note? I mean with with your hands using a pen in legible handwriting? Just imagine the clarity of thought required to do that! Especially in these days where we press one backspace for every three characters we type in MS Word and still we need spell check! If you have managed to do that, you have another #winner my friend. 

Here are a few more tried and tested ways for small victories... feel free to add your own too

Take a piece of paper. Crumple it and sink a glorious three pointer into the corner waste basket #win

The most common one of them all
You’re late to the railway station and the train is also late #win

You’re late to the office and no one notices #win (or #fail depending on  how long you have been around)

You honk at a girl and she looks at you #win

You convinced a friend to buy dorky sunglasses by putting on a global warming argument #MediumSizedWin

The auto guy agrees to come by meter fare (not applicable for people living in Bombay)

The auto has a meter (for people in Chennai)

The number of birthday wishes you received is greater than the number of wishes you gave (note: Facebook wishes don’t count)

You get lower berth and no uncle requests you to exchange it for an upper berth because aunty can’t climb 

Guessed the right direction while driving in a strange place... just by looking at the north star

You manage to buy a tatkal train ticket online! (This is actually a #bigwin)

(edit: added from comments) "I once managed to score 52 runs in 2 overs in a 10 X 10 meters cricket ground playing with my 8 year old nephew and his friends in tiny shorts and vests. They sidelined Sachin and honored me by calling their favorite batsman #MyGreatestWin" -- Sourav Roy

(edit: Also Keerti had some to add)
Putting a thread through the eye of a needle

Taking your car/scooter from a cramped parking space (big winner feeling)

Sleeping through a Balakrishna movie (it would be so difficult with all the yelling and the shouting) = #SmallWin. Managing to stay awake through it is #BigWin

If someone is planning to commit suicide and they call you before doing so... share this with them. If they still end up killing themselves, you have only yourself to blame.

September 5, 2011

Jihadi Chess

Chess has been around for like forever. The earliest form of Chess that resembles modern Chess was found during the Gupta period. Like most things in history, the Persians picked it up from us, then the Moors kicked some Persian ass and learned Chess from them. The Moors then kicked the Spaniards and taught them Chess. And like that it spread across all civilizations.

The Sanskrit word for Chess “Chaturanga” represents the four major divisions of the ancient and medieval armies -- Elephants, Chariots, Horsemen and Foot Soldiers. The problem with Chess is, our armies are nothing like that. We have come a long way from slaying people with a sword while riding on a horse. That time has passed.

Most big Armies today along with the Navy and the Air Force are ready and capable to fight a two ocean war with a major power. But which two major countries are on the brink of a two ocean war? Iceland and Ivory Coast? That time has passed too. It’s over. The mechanism for world domination has changed and with that, the nature of war too. 

The war of the future is terrorism. It is and it will be a small group of dissidents who, perhaps, unbeknownst to their own governments plot to bomb public places, kill innocent civilians and hurt the country’s economy to make a political point. As an Indian whose ancestors have invented the game of Chess, I feel it is my duty to post modernize the beautiful intellectual game to reflect the current war scenario.

Highlights from a few games...

Over the last two months, I have managed to convince three or four people (it's really hard) to play a few games of Jihadi Chess with me and I have seen some interesting variations in strategy. The beginning of the game was quite normal. The fun begins when a player loses the queen. 

On most occasions, the players who lost the queen tended to use the rooks quite recklessly (may be because of the eagerness to wage Jihad) and players who still had the queen tended to become a little paranoid and often went on killing pawns  as if they were cockroaches meant to be squashed with a high heeled shoe putting more important pieces at great risk in the process. There was also one instant where a player sacrificed his rook just to prevent the other player from waging Jihad. 

One obvious rule not explicitly written down is that blowing up the pawn should not result in a check for the Jihadi side. This is not that easy to pull off especially after your King has seen some action. The most interesting development in this format is that the winning player is forced to think twice about getting his pieces forward during the endgame which turned out to be a huge advantage for the losing side. (which is good for me since I usually am on the losing side!) 

If you have nothing to do (which is evident from the fact that you're reading this) and if you have Chess board, I urge you to try Jihadi Chess. If you do, do not forget to leave some highlights/insights on this version so that we can make it better. Also if anyone is interested in collaborating with me to make a simple flash application so that people can play online, mail me at this address and we'll try to build something :)

Whatever you do, do not write off Jihadi Chess like you have written off 300 Chess!

Image taken from